How Newfoundlanders are taking a remarkable stand against Islamophobia

Interesting vignette:

Islamophobia haunts the nation, slinking into hearts and minds and laws, and some say if we could just learn from the ethnic diversity of Newfoundland—Newfoundland?—we could become more tolerant, too.

“We wanted to present Newfoundland as a role model,” says Mahmoud Haddara, president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, who feels he lives on an anomalous island of peace. “This is what we wanted to tell, the story of Newfoundland.”

Haddara flew to Ottawa in October to testify before the standing committee on systemic racism and religious discrimination, part of the federal government’s attempt to stem bigotry. While Quebec’s Bill 62 proposes to ban people wearing face coverings from using public services, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have instead stood in solidarity with Muslims who live in villages as remote as Nain. They have become so curious about Islam that the one-mosque province must move its overflowing holiday prayers into a hockey arena. Hate crimes still happen, but when other provinces wonder how to promote interfaith understanding, the answer may be blowing in the brisk, Atlantic wind.

“We don’t want this bubble to be contaminated,” says Ayse Akinturk, a colleague of Haddara. “Our only worry is how long are we going to be able to preserve this beautiful experience, whether [or not] it will be spoiled by the outsider negative experience.”

The 3,000 Muslims in the province say they are the only congregation in North America to include both Sunnis and Shias, the two largest sects of Islam. In 1990, St. John’s simply didn’t have the Muslim population to support two mosques, so they created a uniquely diverse hub on Logy Bay Road, where neighbours include a carpet factory and a liquor store.

“I was reared up by my grandparents pretty good,” Ashley Smith of Norman’s Cove told CBC when the local station did an entire series on Islam in the province. Smith has converted to Islam and wears a hijab; and though she still cooks a traditional Jiggs’ dinner, and fish and brewis, she said after her conversion, “I finally feel at peace.”

Muslim immigrants are some of the best-educated citizens in the province. They serve as much-needed doctors in rural areas, engineers for oil rigs, and teachers. Although some Muslims arrived in the 1960s, immigration increased when Newfoundland ended its denominational school system in 1998, the last province to do so. There are now Muslims in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City, Nain—“they are everywhere,” says Haddara. The RCMP in St. John’s has requested Islam 101 sessions from the Muslim association, which also considers itself a friend of the clergy.

On 9/11, Newfoundland refreshed its code of hospitality as the town of Gander hosted about 6,200 airline passengers from around the world. And when six worshippers were shot and killed in Quebec last year, Newfoundlanders created a human shield around their own mosque in solidarity. “We were praying inside, and all these 1,500 Newfoundlanders were surrounding the mosque and waiting until our prayer was over,” recalls Haddara. “We live in complete confidence and harmony with each other.”

However, the mosque recently received $46,000 from the government for requested security equipment, including surveillance cameras, and research by Jennifer Selby*, an associate professor of religious studies at Newfoundland’s Memorial University, has documented hate crimes including graffiti of racist slurs. Islamophobia does exist.

“We see many narratives of positive navigation and negotiation related to religious difference,” says Selby. “At the same time, micro-aggressions are pervasive and we must become more attuned to the institutional and structural Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racisms within daily life” in Newfoundland and Labrador. There is also discrimination in employment in St. John’s, she notes.

The province is still 97 per cent white and 90 per cent Christian. Among the Muslims Selby talked to, one student from Kuwait was referred to as  “Osama,” and said a professor assumed he would be a devout Muslim and arranged a prayer room for him. Another person arrived for dinner at a local’s house and was served bacon bits.

Locals have also complained that Muslim refugees are draining resources, although one refugee, 14-year-old Mohammad Maarouf, reports an unwavering welcome. He spends time with his friend Connor and by the sea: “We catch herring and catfish and sometimes we catch something called sturgeon,” he says.

Muslims in Newfoundland are not excluded from the tradition of getting screeched in. Instead of drinking rum, Haddara explains, they kiss the obligatory fish, paired with a glass of apple or orange juice.

via Macleans


ICYMI – Islam in Germany: Muslims prefer to be talked to rather than talked about | DW | 03.10.2017

Understandable concerns of German Muslim communities:

On a day celebrating German unity, many Muslims have reason to wonder if “German unity” applies to them in light of recent federal election results. The third strongest party in the Bundestag will be the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), a party which has rejected the Islamic faith as part of German cultural identity.

October 3 is the country’s national holiday and, for many Germans, just a day to sleep in or earn some extra cash at work. For mosques around the country, however, it’s the day of their national open house: neighbors can take a tour, satisfy their curiosity about Islam and local Muslims and – of course – eat.

To be Muslim and nonpartisan

Indeed the smell of oil and charcoal wafting into the prayer room is the only indication that something different is going on at this Cologne mosque. The plush Bourdeaux carpeting of the sacred space seems to absorb all outside sounds – and our feet – as Tarik Yilmaz and Mustafa Karatas talk community outreach.

“Our religion is at the forefront of our work. Not politics,” Karatas tells DW.

Germany’s mosques began annual open houses in 1997 and have carried forth the tradition ever since. Technically, though, most mosques in Germany are open year round to the public upon appointment

Muslims have become the center of many heated debates over public safety, women’s rights and even loyalty to the German state in recent years. Hence, dispelling misconceptions is one of their priorities. However, they emphasize that this work is nonpartisan, just like their cooperation with local religious groups and charities.

“It’s a mosque community so it’s a good idea not to be politically active,” the board’s representative explains.

Yilmaz, a 27-year-old theologian who recently started working at the primarily Turkish house of worship, agrees: “People come here to pray or because they have friends here and to eat some food. We don’t really talk politics.”

Still, in a community where they have strong partnerships, what do they make of the AfD winning over 9 percent in their constituency? An answer is out of the question.

Feeling the pain of neo-Nazi terrorism

Just a few blocks away from that mosque and theology school in northeastern Cologne is the site of a nailbomb attack perpetrated by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU). It was a hit on the Turkish community and an attack on social cohesion and multiculturalism in Cologne.

The wounds of the attack lie much deeper than the shrapnel that left over 20 injured in June 2004. The terrorist attack on Keupstrasse was one of a dozen the NSU carried out between 2000 and 2007. Yet, despite the attackers’ identities being known to police in the late 1990s, it wasn’t until a botched robbery brought the right-wing terror cell to light in 2011 that officials cleared members of the Turkish community of suspicion.

The bomb planted by the NSU sent over 700 nails flying through Keupstrasse. For several years, officials interrogated locals suspecting the crime to be linked to Turkish mafia

The case has raised questions about right-wing sympathizers among police and a how large the blind spot to right-wing extremism in Germany is.

And, with the rise of the a party like the AfD – one whose leaders have made racist and Islamophobic comments, as well as relativized the Holocaust and have been known to use Nazi rhetoric – critics worry that a far-right party in parliament could embolden the country’s radical right-wing scene.

Rising violence toward Muslims

For Ahmed Erdogan, like many on Keupstrasse, the swift rise of the far-right AfD has been a shock. “Where will this lead?” he wonders.

Tucked away from the frilly bridal dress shops and bounteous bakery display cases that line Keupstrasse, the local mosque is easy to overlook. It’s one of the oldest in the Cologne neighborhood of Mühlheim, where over 40 percent of the population has foreign roots. According to Erdogan, who’s on its board, it has been and remains very active in community outreach and cooperation – making the AfD’s popularity all the more puzzling.

Infografik AfD Bundestagswahl 2017 Bundesländer ENG

This year, there have nearly 20 attacks on Muslims and nearly 400 incidents of “Islamophobic crimes,” ranging from hate speech, threats and damage to property, according to a governmental inquiry from the Left party. As it’s the first year officials have assessed the crime rate against Muslims, no previous data for comparison has been analyzed.

Meanwhile, the AfD’s rhetoric surrounding Islam has also raised concerns. In addition to dismissing the religion – one practiced by over 4 million people in Germany – as being a part of German society, the AfD also wants to prohibit minarets and the call to prayer.

“The AfD sees a great danger to our state, our society and our set of values through the spread of Islam and the presence of over 5 million Muslims, whose numbers are increasing,” the AfD said in its party platform, which states that Muslims who obey the law and are “integrated” are “valued members of society.” The far-right party denies all accusations of Islamophobic or racist rhetoric.

Given the need for dialogue these days, mosques can choose to stay out of politics, but as a Muslim it’s hard to “keep out it,” Erdogan tells DW.

The Keupstrasse mosque doesn’t participate in the national open house because it’s open to anyone everyday, just like most mosques. And if there’s one point Erdogan and his colleagues at the neighboring mosque agree on, it’s this: dialogue – and not fear – is the only way forward.

Source: Islam in Germany: Muslims prefer to be talked to rather than talked about | Germany | DW | 03.10.2017

Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

Despite the headline, a more nuanced poll and study than most on antisemitism or other forms of racism and prejudice:

More than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view, according to a study of attitudes to Jewish people.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research said the finding came from the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Britain.

But it said the study did not mean that British people were anti-Semitic.

Researchers also found a correlation in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes.

The study found a relatively small number of British adults – 2.4% – expressed multiple anti-Semitic attitudes “readily and confidently”.

But when questioned about whether they agreed with a number of statements, including “Jews think they are better than other people”, and “Jews exploit holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, 30% agreed with at least one statement.

Despite this, the researchers said they found that levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain were among the lowest in the world.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which has recorded high levels anti-Semitic crime, said: “We believe the new findings, data and nuance in this study will help us to work even more effectively with partners inside and outside the Jewish community to tackle this problem.”

The report said about 70% of the population of Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews and did not hold any anti-Semitic ideas or views.

Muslim views

The IJPR’s researchers questioned 5,466 people face-to-face and online in the winter of 2016/17 – 995 of these were Muslims, although a smaller number of Muslims were included in the statisticians’ nationally representative sample.

They found more than half of Muslims (55%) held at least one anti-Semitic attitude.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, director of the IJPR, said: “Our intention here was not to make any broad generalisations about the Muslim population and their attitudes towards Jews.

“There does seem to be some relationship between levels of religiosity in the Muslim population and anti-Semitism.”

The institute said it wanted to promote an “elastic view”, making a distinction between people who are clearly anti-Semites, and ideas that are perceived by Jews as anti-Semitic.

In December 2016 the government adopted an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism: “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”.

Questions on Israel

The researchers also questioned people about their views on statements about Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.

Their report said fewer than one in five people questioned (17%) had a favourable opinion of Israel, whereas about one in three (33%) held an unfavourable view.

The report said: “The position of the British population towards Israel can be characterised as one of uncertainty or indifference, but among those who hold a view, people with sympathies towards the Palestinians are numerically dominant.”

Dr Boyd said: “Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views exist both together and in isolation.

“The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well.”

The study also revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes were higher than normal among people who classified their politics as “very right-wing”.

Among this group they were two to four times higher than among the general population.

The researchers said the prevalence was considerably higher among right-wingers than on the left.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, from the Liberal Judaism movement, said: “The report is important for helping us understand where the anxiety comes from within the community at large and for understanding why anti-semitism seems to be the prevailing discourse within the community.

“We must be really careful that it does not come to define us and that we celebrate the positive interactions with society at large.

“What is arguably more important … is to educate and interact, to be more outward facing and open to discussion than inward facing.”

Source: Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

ICYMI: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

Not too surprising:

Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West.

“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate (HnH) chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report which was released on Wednesday.

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”

The report, billed as “one of the most comprehensive studies of English attitudes towards contemporary issues”, found that despite views on immigration “softening”, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society”.

The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.

The study found older people were more prone to Islamophobia, “painting a worrying set of views” which HnH said would require “significant effort” to address.

Anti-hate charity Tell Mama told HuffPost UK that it was not surprised by the survey’s findings and called on mosques and Islamic institutions to do more to “break down barriers”.

“We know, given the levels of aggression towards victims, that there is a foothold taking place within small sections of the UK, around anti-Muslim hatred,” Tell Mama director Iman Atta said.

“For the survey to show that 25% of Brits believe that Islam is a dangerous religion, is concerning and we need more mosques and Islamic institutions to engage with their neighbours and break down barriers that there may be. Also, for 52% of respondents to believe that Islam poses a threat risk to the West shows that a lot more work needs to be done by Muslims and NGO’s to counter such growing divisions.”

Atta added:  “We are the vanguard of trying to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and we call upon others to join us in standing against all forms of hatred, including anti-Muslim hatred. There is much work to be done and clearly, there is a long road ahead. If we do not challenge this, it will strengthen Islamist extremism as well as alienating large numbers of Muslims.”

Source: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

ICYMI: Gestes haineux envers les musulmans: les autochtones interpellés | Camille B. Vincent | Société

Good bridging and connections between new Canadians and First Nations:

La communauté musulmane se reconnaît en nous comme nous nous reconnaissons en elle.» Interpellés par la vague de haine dirigée actuellement envers la communauté musulmane de Québec, des dirigeants autochtones se sont levés vendredi pour lancer un appel à la tolérance et à l’ouverture.

«La ville de Québec traverse des périodes assez éprouvantes, et on sait tous que les racines de l’intolérance sont profondes», a laissé entendre le chef de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations du Québec et du Labrador, Ghislain Picard, lors de la cérémonie d’ouverture du tout premier événement KWE!, qui se tiendra jusqu’à dimanche à la place de l’Assemblée-Nationale. «Et j’aimerais reconnaître le courage du maire de Québec, M. Labeaume, qui a décidé de confronter la haine. C’est le geste qu’il nous faut poser.»

Rappelons que la voiture de Mohamed Labidi, président du Centre culturel islamique de Québec, a été incendiée dans la nuit du 5 au 6 août. Si la police refuse de confirmer la nature haineuse du geste, le maire de Québec, lui, affirme qu’il s’agit là d’un acte dirigé vers la communauté musulmane de Québec.

Lui-même présent vendredi soir à la cérémonie d’ouverture de KWE!, Régis Labeaume a semblé touché par le message positif que véhicule l’événement. «Je trouve ça magnifique. […] Ça ressemble à Québec, ça ressemble à la Capitale-Nationale.» Mercredi, il avait dit littéralement l’inverse du geste posé à l’endroit de M. Labidi.

«Les mots vivre ensemble, découvrir l’autre, tendre la main, se connaître, s’aimer… Ça prend une connotation un peu particulière cette semaine, parce que j’ai l’impression que ma ville n’est peut-être pas celle tout à fait que je croyais qu’elle était. […] Sans vouloir être alarmiste, j’ai certaines craintes. Il va falloir qu’on apprenne à se découvrir, à se tendre la main, à s’aimer, et surtout, à se comprendre.»

«Prendre une part de responsabilité»

Konrad Sioui, grand chef de la nation huronne-wendat, a quant à lui dénoncé la banalisation des gestes haineux posés contre la communauté musulmane. «C’est pas vrai que c’est des cas isolés. […] J’entends les radios, j’entends des commentateurs. Ils sont tous sur ce mode-là. “On est parfait, c’est un cas isolé, il n’y a rien là.” Arrêtons de parler de même et de penser de même. Je ne veux pas dire qu’il faut se rendre coupable, mais prendre une part de responsabilité.»

Par des spectacles, des discussions et des démonstrations, pour ne nommer que ça, l’événement KWE! propose d’aller à la rencontre des 11 nations autochtones québécoises. Il s’agit d’une première pour la ville de Québec, se réjouit le porte-parole Stanley Vollant. «Pour moi, c’est un événement marquant, et j’espère que c’est la première d’une série de plusieurs années.» Ce à quoi le maire Labeaume a déjà acquiescé vendredi en terminant son discours par : «Je vous dis déjà à l’an prochain!»

Source: Gestes haineux envers les musulmans: les autochtones interpellés | Camille B. Vincent | Société

U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam | Pew Research Center

Usual interesting survey results from Pew, along with some comparisons with Christianity and Judaism in America:

For American Muslims, being highly religious does not necessarily translate into acceptance of traditional notions of Islam. While many U.S. Muslims say they attend mosque and pray regularly, sizable shares also say that there is more than one way to interpret their religion and that traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted to address the issues of today.

By some conventional measures, U.S. Muslims are as religious as – or more religious than – many Americans who belong to other faith groups. Four-in-ten (43%) Muslim Americans say they attend mosque at least once a week, including 18% who say they attend more than once a week, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. An additional 32% say they attend once or twice a month, or a few times a year. These attendance levels are comparable to those of U.S. Christians, 47% of whom say they attend services weekly or more, and greater than the 14% of American Jews who say the same.

A majority also say that they pray at least some or all of the salah, or ritual prayers required of Muslims five times per day. Among all U.S. Muslims, fully 42% say they pray all five salah daily, while 17% pray at least some of the salah every day. A quarter say they pray less often, and just 15% say they never pray.

And nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say that religion is very important in their lives, similar to the share of U.S. Christians who say the same (68%), and higher than the share of U.S. Jews who say this (31%). An additional 22% of Muslims say that religion is somewhat important in their lives, while fewer say that religion is not too or not at all important to them.

At the same time, American Muslims openly acknowledge that there is room for multiple interpretations of the teachings of Islam. A majority (64%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the faith’s teachings, while just half as many (31%) say there is only one true way to interpret Islam. And it’s not just less-religious Muslims who express this sentiment: While 72% of Muslims who say religion is somewhat (or less) important in their life say they are open to multiple interpretations, a majority (59%) of those who say religion is very important in their life also say there is more than one true way to interpret the faith. Among U.S. Christians, there is a similar balance: 60% say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion, while 34% say there is just one true way.

About half (52%) of all U.S. Muslim adults also say that traditional understandings of Islam must be reinterpreted to reflect contemporary issues, while 38% maintain that traditional understandings of Islam are all that are needed to address today’s issues. On this question there is more of a difference of opinion among Muslims when it comes to how important religion is in their lives. Those who say religion is very important in their lives are evenly divided (43% say traditional understandings should be reinterpreted vs. 46% who say traditional understandings are all that is needed), while about seven-in-ten (71%) of those who say religion is less important express the view that Islamic teachings need to be reinterpreted.

Source: U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam | Pew Research Center

Muslims assimilate well in Germany, even though many Germans don’t like them: study

Interesting contrasts between Germany and Britain and France:

Muslim immigrants in Germany have an easier time finding a job and building a community than those in Switzerland, Austria, France and Britain.

That’s according to a new study from the Bertelsmann Foundation. The researchers spoke to more than 10,000 Muslims who were either born in Europe or arrived before 2010, which means they did not interview the millions who travelled to Europe from Syria and the Middle East during the recent refugee crisis. In 2015, Germany took in nearly a million migrants and asylum seekers.

There are 4.7 million Muslims in Germany. According to researchers, 96 percent said they felt connected to the country.

About 60 per cent now hold a full-time job, and an additional 20 per cent are employed part time. These rates are similar to those for ethnic Germans, and higher than Muslim employment rates in the other western European countries studied. It’s probably thanks to Germany’s booming economy. “The international comparison shows that it is not religious affiliation that determines the success of opportunities for integration, but the state and the economic framework,” Stephan Vopel, an expert on social cohesion at the Bertelsmann Foundation, told German broadcaster DW.

Muslim migrants do lag, however, when it comes to finding good jobs – they make less money than their German peers. And the most religious Muslims, who often dress differently and require time to worship during work hours, struggle to find employment in Germany. Devout Muslims had an easier time finding employment in the United Kingdom. Bertelsmann Foundation researchers suggested that that was because Britain has done a better job of levelling the playing field for pious Muslims, allowing female police officers, for example, to wear headscarves.

Critics say that the most recent data from Germany’s Federal Agency for Labor paints a less rosy picture. About half of the able-bodied employees without work right now are migrants.

The report also found that 73 per cent of the children born in Germany to Muslim immigrants now speak German as a first language. (Those numbers are high in France, too, as many Muslims came from countries that used to be French colonies.) And 93 per cent of German-born Muslims said they spent free time with Muslims and non-Muslims.

On education, things don’t look quite as good: 36 per cent of Muslim youths leave Germany without having completed any degree. (That number is much lower – about 11 per cent – in France.)

Although Muslims feel welcome in Germany, Germans aren’t always so eager to have them – about 19 per cent of non-Muslims in Germany said they don’t want Muslim neighbours. Those rates were high across Europe – more people said Muslims were their least preferred neighbours than any other demographic category, including foreigners, gays, Jews, people of colour, atheists, Christians and big families. (One exception: In the U.K., those surveyed preferred Muslim neighbours to big families.)

“When it comes to participation of Muslims in society, [it] isn’t as bleak as it is often presented in the media,” Ayse Demir, spokeswoman for the Berlin-based Turkish community organization TBB, told DW. “It shows that a lot of Muslims feel integrated, but there is a lack of acceptance – and that’s also our perception. Participation isn’t a one-way street: It needs to come from both sides.”

Source: National Post

U.S. Muslims are concerned about extremism in name of Islam | Pew Research Center

Useful poll and analysis:

Most Americans are worried about Islamic extremism, and most Muslim Americans share these concerns.

About eight-in-ten U.S. Muslims (82%) say they are either very (66%) or somewhat concerned (16%) about extremism committed in the name of Islam around the world, about the same as the share of the general public that feels this way (83%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Only about one-in-six U.S. Muslims (17%) and Americans overall (15%) say they are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about extremism carried out in the name of Islam worldwide. Among both groups, concern about extremism is up 10 percentage points since the Center’s last survey of U.S. Muslims in 2011.

Muslim American women are particularly worried about global extremism in the name of Islam. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. Muslim women (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about it, up 16 points since 2011. A smaller share of U.S. Muslim men (75%) say they feel this way. 

While U.S. Muslims are slightly less worried about Islamic extremism in the United States than around the world, their concern about domestic extremism is still high. About seven-in-ten American Muslims (71%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about extremism in the name of Islam occurring in the U.S. As with global extremism, the level of concern among Muslim Americans about extremism in the U.S. is very similar to the general public’s (70%).

Despite their concerns about Islamic extremism, only 17% of Muslim Americans say there is a great deal (6%) or fair amount (11%) of support for extremism among U.S. Muslims. Most say there is not much support for extremism (30%) or none at all (43%) among the U.S. Muslim community. This contrasts with the views of Americans in general. Compared with Muslims, twice as many people in the general public (35%) say there is at least “a fair amount” of support for extremism among Muslims who live in the U.S.

Muslim Americans also differ from the general public in their views on undercover sting operations and other police efforts to disrupt terrorist plots. Four-in-ten U.S. Muslims (39%) say that when law enforcement officers have arrested Muslims on suspicion of plotting terrorist acts, they have mostly arrested “violent people who posed a real threat.” But 30% say such arrests have mostly involved “people who were tricked by law enforcement and did not pose a real threat,” while an additional 30% say they are not sure or express no opinion.

The general public is less divided on this question: 62% of U.S. adults say anti-terror arrests have mostly stopped real threats, while only 20% say authorities mostly have entrapped people who did not pose a real threat.

Both Muslims and the general public also were asked if there are circumstances under which targeting and killing civilians can be justified in order to further a political, social or religious cause. Roughly eight-in-ten U.S. Muslims (84%) say such tactics can rarely (8%) or never (76%) be justified. The share of Muslims who say such tactics can often or sometimes be justified (12%) is similar to the share saying this among the general public (14%). And Muslims are more likely than the public as a whole to say that targeting civilians for political, social or religious causes can never be justified.

Source: U.S. Muslims are concerned about extremism in name of Islam | Pew Research Center

Muslims In The U.S. Face Increased Discrimination, PEW Report Says : NPR

Interesting interview regarding some of the latest findings on American Muslims:

A newly-released poll from the Pew Research Center finds Muslims in the U.S. are facing increased discrimination but are optimistic about being both Muslim and American.


There are an estimated 3.3 million Muslims in the United States, and that number is growing. Today the Pew Research Center released a wide-ranging poll on Muslims in America. And while almost half the Muslims surveyed reported incidents of verbal or physical abuse in the past 12 months, many still say they are optimistic about their future and about this country. To talk about this, we’re joined now by NPR’s Leila Fadel. You might remember her from her time as NPR’s Cairo correspondent. Now she has taken on a new job covering culture, race and diversity here in the U.S. She is with us from her new base in Las Vegas. Hi there.


MCEVERS: So what were the most striking findings in this poll of Muslim-Americans?

FADEL: Well, this is the third Pew poll on Muslims in America in 10 years. And I think the first thing that’s so noticeable is the incredible diversity of Muslim communities in this country. Often Muslims are spoken about as a monolith when, in fact, this is a population that’s really a diverse mosaic. There’s no one ethnic group that dominates the population. It’s African-American. It’s white. It’s Asian. It’s Arab. It’s Latino. And list goes on. And it’s really young. The majority of Muslims in America are under 40.

MCEVERS: And what about that finding that I mentioned in the introduction that Muslims are feeling optimistic?

FADEL: Yeah, it’s interesting. Despite this feeling that they’re not accepted as part of the mainstream, that the president is unfriendly toward Muslims and that discrimination is going up, 7 in 10 respondents really believe in the American dream still, that if you work hard, you can get ahead. And the overwhelming majority are proud to be both American and Muslim. This is what Besheer Mohamed, lead author of the report, had to say.

BESHEER MOHAMED: There’s a thread throughout the survey of this tension that our Muslim respondents tell us about where on the one hand, they’re uncertain about their acceptance by the larger society. But on the other hand, they’re committed to an American identity. And I think this finding that 9 in 10 say they’re proud to be American is sort of a perfect example of that commitment.

MCEVERS: Who did the poll survey?

FADEL: So the poll was conducted on a sample size of about a thousand Muslim adults living in the U.S. And really there’s not that much data out there on Muslims in the U.S. Muslims are a group of people in America that are often spoken about and scrutinized, but there’s very little data, including how many there are because being Muslim is not something you check on the census form.

MCEVERS: You’ve been traveling and visiting a lot of different Muslim communities across the U.S. Does this poll reflect what you’ve been seeing?

FADEL: Well, yeah. I visited communities in Texas and California as well as cities like Chicago and New York and spoke to Muslims in all parts of the country. And it’s funny because in the poll, it seems that women are more worried about discrimination. They’re more worried about their place in society. And I really felt that same way in doing interviews across the country. And I think that’s really because when a woman decides to put a scarf on her head and cover her hair, she suddenly becomes unmistakably Muslim and de facto ambassador of the faith and a de facto target for the faith.

So, you know, I met people like a young girl in California who’s being bullied at school. And she decided to put on the scarf because her mom does, and she loves her mom and admires her mom. And she found at school that suddenly kids were whispering behind her back allahu akbar, pinning things to her backpack. And the teacher was handing out articles about stonings in Afghanistan as an example of her faith. And this is what she was having to deal with and answer for in her faith at just 14 years old while her sister, who doesn’t cover her hair, didn’t have to deal with any of that.

Source: Muslims In The U.S. Face Increased Discrimination, PEW Report Says : NPR

Put Muslim characters who don’t need to be ‘saved’ on school reading lists

Heba Elsherief on Muslim characters in children’s literature:

As the film industry begins to heed criticisms from places like the “Oscars So White” movement, the advocacy of groups like We Need Diverse Books, with its mission to offer children more books that reflect them and their lives, is making waves in publishing too.

Over the past year, books written by people of colour and featuring multicultural characters made the New York Times young adult best-sellers list.

My research into diversity and literature — specifically representations of Muslims therein — indicates that this isn’t a passing trend. Racialized writers are being charged with writing their own narratives and consumers are indicating their desire to read them.

In fact, education researchers have long touted the benefits of using culturally relevant materials and lesson plans in North American classrooms to reflect a real student body. Students are diverse: they come from different races and religions; their orientations and genders vary. Their reading materials should reflect such diversity.

Teachers hoping to foster inclusivity and equitable practices in their classrooms realize that when schooling speaks to all, it can lead to more democratic spaces and, by extension, a more just society.

But culturally relevant materials are hard to find — not only because culture itself is a complex and nuanced entity but also because the materials themselves don’t typically exist in white mainstream platforms.

Muslim characters often portrayed as victims

Children’s stories either written by Muslim writers or featuring Muslim main characters are typically nonexistent or problematic in their representations of Muslim experiences.

This becomes a problem when it comes to creating a school curriculum that truly reflects our society. Materials available to upper/middle grade and high school English teachers generally reinforce negative stereotypes.

Take, for instance, The Breadwinner (Ellis, 2000), about an Afghani girl under the Taliban who has to dress up as a boy to support her family. It is frequently found on book lists in Canadian classrooms in an attempt to be inclusive. Yet putting the book on such lists misses the mark.

An analysis of the novel reveals its focus as primarily on the real or imagined plight of “othered” females. That is, this novel, along with others like it, divides the world into a typical “us” and “them” model, as defined in 1978 by cultural critic Edward Said. The novel ends up reinforcing the stereotype of Muslim girls as needing to be saved. Therefore, this is not an empowering narrative for young girls.

Plight narratives, such as the one in The Breadwinner, are problematic because they enact a “care ethic” that has been central to the project and history of schooling in the West. It reinforces colonial relations between colonizer and the “inferior,” colonized “other.” In other words, novels written about a “far away victim” that Western readers need to “save” isn’t a very authentic character representation of the everyday experiences for most young North Americans.

In my research interviews, some students report enjoying such literature but feeling confused abut the terrible representations of themselves as Muslim women. These are high level and confusing problems for middle-school children who are still forming their identities. Research shows that young people need to see themselves positively reflected in the books they read.

As well, my research into the responses of young Muslim women to 1000 Splendid Suns (Hosseini, 2007) — another novel about Afghani women treated badly — reveals a troubling trend: Muslim girls reading this novel in Grade 8 classrooms were disturbed by the book.

For example, a student in a Toronto-area school told me that, as someone who wears the hijab, references to the burqa in the novel and the inhumane oppression of Muslim women had her non-Muslim classmates feeling either pity for her or ridiculing her culture. The sad part, she said, was that the book was not at all true to her own experiences as a young Muslim woman in Canada. Instead of enhancing her classmates’ understanding of her, she felt the book contributed to her feelings of alienation.

An exciting solution: Salaam Reads and Saints and Misfits

So, what’s a well-intentioned teacher looking to incorporate culturally relevant and sustaining materials in her classrooms to do? In a time when Islamophobic and racist sentiments abound, how might teachers help to counter the negative and harmful rhetoric and real-life harm that’s being done?

Simon and Shuster’s “Salaam Reads” imprint is an exciting solution. Founded in 2016, it “aims to introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works.”

Saints and Misfits is its first contemporary offering. Published this spring, and written by Toronto-based author S.K. Ali, it is a good fit for educators looking for recommendations on what would be a good book to put on their syllabuses.

The book features the nuanced life, struggles, and joys of a Muslim main character. The main character, Janna, is a 15 year-old who loves Flannery O’Connor, photography and her black pashmina hijabs because it’s her “feel-good colour.”

On a personal level, this book took me back to many of my own experiences as a young woman growing up in Winnipeg’s Muslim community. More importantly, my 13-year-old daughter told me she would love to share it with non-Muslim peers in her literature circles at school.

I don’t mean to imply that Saints and Misfits is the one representative work for the experiences of all young Muslim women. But the book is an excellent choice. And the “Salaam Reads” imprint plans to publish eight other books for young readers featuring Muslim characters. It is a hopeful solution for teachers who endeavour to bring culturally relevant books into their classrooms.

Source: Put Muslim characters who don’t need to be ‘saved’ on school reading lists