Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Views on the news - 28/10/08

Chicago: Bus converts 14 people to Islam.

14 people have accepted Islam while a bus - with a simple sign: "ISLAM" Got Questions? Get Answers! are going around Chicago to inform about Islam. The bus dawah project aims at combating Islamaphobia and prejudices against Islam by encouraging non-Muslims to ask questions. For example, Leslie C. Toole was thinking about becoming a Muslim for 10 years - but he needed something to "push him along". Mr. Toole, the new Muslim, believes that the simple yet stark advert which merely says "Got Questions? Get Answers" is a brilliant way to draw people's attention. "I thought it was a neat idea…I had never seen that before." The bus dawah project also provides every new Muslim with the Shahada package, which includes: A How to Pray DVD, a Help Yourself in Reading the Qur'an book, and brochures on various topics about Islam.

US presidential candidates keep their distance from Muslims

By all accounts Muslims are following the presidential race and planning to vote. That means a good many of approximately 7 million U.S. Muslims – many of whom live in battleground states - will turn out to cast their ballots. But many say they feel disenchanted with both candidates. Neither presidential candidate has made any real efforts to reach out to Muslim and Arab Americans. “The Obama campaign has kept Muslim Americans at arms-length for obvious reasons,” says Dr. Moustafa Bayoumi, an associate professor of English at City University of New York-Brooklyn College and author of the recently released book How Does It Feel to Be a Problem: Being Young and Arab in America. The reasons include the distrust and prejudice some Americans feel toward Muslims and Arabs. But while the Obama campaign might try to side-step the Muslim community, the McCain camp is using Islam “as a very destructive and hate-filled way to promote their campaign,” says Bayoumi. McCain has said the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation. Bayoumi says this type of rhetoric alienates anyone belonging to a non-Christian faith: “It’s meant to say that there’s an ‘us’ and there’s a ‘them.’ At the core of the ‘us’ is the Christian Evangelical movement. At the core of the ‘them’ are the Muslims.” The behavior of both candidates should spur Muslims in America to realize that voting for either candidate is a futile exercise and will not halt America’s war against Islam.

UK: Beating radicalization will take 30 years

Recently, Britain's terrorism minister said that it would take 30 years to fully solve problems with the radicalization of young Muslims. Lord Alan West told a committee at London's House of Commons that the U.K. government had a growing understanding of how extremists target teenagers. He also told lawmakers that work to stop young people falling prey to extremists would take around three decades. It is interesting to note that across the world the West is either inflating its estimates to combat Islam or in some cases like Afghanistan has already conceded defeat. Muslims should be buoyed by such developments and should redouble their efforts to re-establish the Khilafah.

Swiss court rejects mixed swimming case

Last week, a Swiss court turned down a request by a Swiss Muslim father to exempt his two sons from attending mixed swimming classes. It argued that exempting students from mixed swimming classes for religious reasons must be very restricted. Equality between the two sexes and the success of the integration process should be given priority over religious considerations, argued the court. The verdict runs counter to a 1993 court ruling which allowed the exemption of a Muslim schoolgirl from attending mixed swimming lessons that violate her religious tents. There are more than 340,000 Muslims in Switzerland, which has a population of 7.4 million.

Exploring cultural heritage with Turkey will not protect Balkan Muslims

This week the future of Balkan Muslims was discussed during Balkan Symposium that was held at Istanbul Grand Cevahir Hotel. For the first time in many years, Chief muftis of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece gathered together at the IHH-organized symposium. Delivering the opening speech, IHH President Bülent Yıldırım said Turkey should strengthen its historical and cultural relations with Muslims in the Balkans again to reassert itself in the region. Yıldırım stated Balkan Muslims have long been neglected and said the symposium aimed to bring up the situation of the Balkans and Balkan Muslims. Global actors are trying to carry out various scenarios in the Balkans, Yıldırım said, adding "Turkey has the potential to prevent global games being played in the Balkans. It could contribute to peace in the region. This is what 12 million Muslims in the Balkans want." On their part the Chief muftis of Balkan countries agreed that Balkan Muslims were made orphans after the retreat of the Ottomans. To redress this situation they suggested that a joint council should be established to probe Ottoman cultural legacy and problems of Balkan Muslims. Only the Khilafah can protect the Muslims of the Balkans. The messenger (s.a.w) said, “The Imam is a shield behind which the people are protected and behind whom they fight.”

Thai Muslims oppressed by the government

Recently, leading a leading human rights group stated that the abuses by the Thai military are forcing Muslims to live in fear in Thailand’s Narathiwat province. "Muslims in southern Thailand live in fear of the army storming in to take their men away to be tortured," said Brad Adams, Asia director at the Human Rights Watch. The HRW has recently accused the army and police of using forced disappearances to intimidate Muslims, urging a public government's renunciation of the standard policy. "The army is fighting an insurgency but that doesn't mean soldiers can abuse people," said Adams. "And prosecuting troops for mistreatment could actually help calm the situation and rebuild trust with the Muslim community." Thai Muslims, who make up five percent of the predominantly Buddhist kingdom's population, have long complained of heavy-handed practices by the military in the South. Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala are the only Muslim-majority provinces in Thailand and were an independent Muslim sultanate until annexed officially a century ago.


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