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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Washington Times’s Arrogance

Amad Abu Reem

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After NY Times’s ‘moderate’ article on CAIR, which I had analyzed here, Washington Times came with its guns blazing on a few days ago. What extremely irks me about this editorial is the sheer arrogance of the Times. This line especially gets under my skin: “This is a lesson [about a robust media] our Muslim brothers will learn sooner or later as they become accustomed to life in America.”

What? Are you kidding me? Is this the semi-respectable ‘unbiased’ newspaper Washington Times, or am I reading commentary on Spencer’s Jihad Watch? Ok, I am not that naive; I know the Times is a conservative right-wing (not just leaning but completely FOXish right-wing) paper. But still, isn’t there something calling journalistic responsibility? Isn’t even the most biased media outlet that purports to report news still supposed to pretend that it is TRYING to be unbiased, even if it ultimately isn’t?

Well, not in Washington Times’s case. This newspaper is so beholden to AIPAC and other right-wing nuts’ position that it does not even pretend to be unbiased. Back to the line that irked then, what in the world are you talking about WT? “Our Muslim brothers”? First of all, we ain’t your brothers, especially YOUR brothers. Secondly, what does this mean: “accustomed to life in America”? Are you aware, editors at WT: that many of the CAIR people are actually born-Americans, and probably all of them are Americans? And most of them are doing fairly well in America, and your condescending, belittling statement does nothing except to show how ridiculously low your editorial standards are.

Furthermore, WT tells CAIR (and by token of this to all the Muslims) that “The way to stop unfavorable coverage is to straighten up and fly right. Shooting the messenger, as any successful American advocacy group could tell them, never works. ”

Let me tell you, WT bigots: the way to stop unfavorable coverage from your paper is for Muslims to become once-Muslims. The only people that will make you happy are Muslim-pretenders such as Manji, and the “we are Muslims when we really are not” folks such as Ayaan Hirshi, or Wafa Sultan. And let me also tell you, that it ain’t happening! Maybe some of the proggie boys and girls at eteraz might buckle down and fulfill your requirements for ‘good Muslim boys and girls’, but the vast majority of normal Muslims will always be ‘radical’ in your sight, just like CAIR. So take your worthless, insincere and unjustified advice and mail it to AIPAC, Daniel Pipes’s ‘Campus Watch’, and your very own organization, which best exemplifies the ‘kill the messenger’ methodology. Have we forgotten what was done to Carter and to the two Professors who wrote a critical analysis of AIPAC? We haven’t.

CAIR’s statement on the editorial (a few excerpts):

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/15/07) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called the right-wing Washington Times newspaper “beyond hypocritical” for claiming to support a “robust media” while refusing to publish responses to alleged anti-Muslim bias in its reporting and commentary.

As evidence of the Washington Times’ refusal to publish editorial responses from Muslims, CAIR cited a letter to the editor it sent to the paper earlier this week. That letter, headlined “Washington Times Seeks to Silence American Muslims,” has not appeared in that newspaper. It stated in part:

“It seems that Internet searches of extremist anti-Muslim blogs have replaced responsible journalism at the Washington Times. That can be the only explanation for the laundry list of recycled smears, distortions and outright falsehoods littered throughout S.A. Miller’s hatchet job on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group.

“CAIR is a grass-roots expression of American Muslims who resolved to rise to the challenges facing our society, namely to confront intolerance and promote justice. As the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights group, CAIR’s 32 chapters bring together Americans from every walk of life. The diversity represented by CAIR’s staff, volunteers and supporters is a reflection of the diversity of America.

“We are the same group that launched an online petition drive, called ‘Not in the Name of Islam,’ designed to demonstrate Muslim repudiation of terrorism and religious extremism. CAIR is also the group that launched a television public service announcement campaign of that same name and coordinated a ‘fatwa,’ or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism. . .

Saylor, the author of CAIR’s letter to the Times, added: “The fact that CAIR comes under attack by anti-Muslim extremists should come as no surprise to anyone who works for positive social change. All proponents of justice, including leading organizations in America’s civil rights movement, have faced similar attacks designed to silence their voices.

Imad Shaykh is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Imad is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hassan

    March 19, 2007 at 8:00 PM

    I am still amazed after 5-6 months since that incident, no one has explained (perhaps) to newspapers, airport authorities and airlines, that Fajr, Maghreb and Isha prayers are read aloud, and of course since we are worshipping Allah, His name would be mentioned in the prayers. And when WT says “fly right”, does it mean we should not pray? No doubt prayer is symbol of islam and imaan, and that irks kuffar most.

  2. Avatar

    Abdu

    March 19, 2007 at 9:46 PM

    salaam,

    “we ain’t your brothers”- I must say, I gotta love your passion Amad.

    “…they become accustomed to life in America.”- LOL, as if we all just came off a boat 5 years ago.

    Good thing I don’t read newspapers.

  3. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 19, 2007 at 10:41 PM

    Akhi, we’re going to have to revoke your FOB Club membership if you keep using words like “ain’t.” Try are’nt or sha’nt. : )

  4. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 19, 2007 at 10:42 PM

    shan’t*

  5. Amad

    Amad

    March 20, 2007 at 12:32 AM

    “Akhi, we’re going to have to revoke your FOB Club membership”

    Will you please ?? :)

    I am sticking to ain’t… it has that special edge to it… and it ain’t going away.

  6. Avatar

    abu ameerah

    March 20, 2007 at 8:07 AM

    As’Salaamu Alaikum wa’Rahmatullah…

    let’s not forget who owns the Washington Times…the one and only Rev. Sun Myung Moon. A few years ago he said in a speech,

    “Fifteen years ago, when the world was adrift on the stormy waves of the Cold War, I established The Washington Times to fulfill God’s desperate desire to save this world. Since that time, I have devoted myself to raising up The Washington Times, hoping that this blessed land of America would fulfill its world-wide mission to build a Heavenly nation. Meanwhile, I waged a lonely struggle, facing enormous obstacles and scorn as I dedicated my whole heart and energy to enable The Washington Times to grow as a righteous and responsible journalistic institution.”

    Yeah…yeah. All of this from the self proclaimed “Messiah” of the world. Authoobillah!

  7. Avatar

    Manas Shaikh

    March 21, 2007 at 6:40 AM

    Brother,
    The emphatic attack on Eteraz is something we should avoid. Whatever he/they may be, they don’t denounce Islam. In fact they have their own understanding of it.

    Now to the case.

    We probably are not doing much good by trying to respond to such. Instead, in my opinion, we should focus on giving out a positive message.

    When the idolators at the Mecca created and fanned propaganda against the Prophet (S), he did not stop for them. He went on teaching message of Love and Peace. And he is an excellent example we can follow.

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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#Culture

Retire Aladdin To The Ends Of The Earth

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By Jinan Shbat

I grew up in an upper-middle-class suburb in Ohio, where I never felt different than the kids in my neighborhood. Sure, my siblings and I had odd-sounding names, and we spoke a second language. But to our neighbors and classmates, we were white, like them. However, that perception changed when I was 11-years-old, when a Disney cartoon movie named “Aladdin,” was released based off of a character created by a French orientalist at the height of Orientalism. At first, my siblings and I were excited because we thought Disney had made a movie that represented us. However, shortly after the movie came out, the questions began.

Are you from Agrabah?

Do you have a magic carpet? Are you going to be married off to someone your parents choose? Do you have outfits like Jasmine?” My head was swarming with all these questions, and I admit, I was intimidated. A little scared, too. I didn’t know how to answer them, and so I just shook my head and walked away.

My parents thought they were doing us a favor by buying the movie and have us watch it anytime other kids came over to play. This just created a larger divide between us, and soon my siblings and I were the “other.” It made me hyper-aware of my brown skin, my visiting foreign grandparents, and my weird-sounding name that no one could ever pronounce correctly. As I grew up, the movie and its racist, Orientalist tropes followed and haunted me. Anytime anyone found out I was Arab, they would ask, “oh, like Aladdin?” I didn’t know how to answer that. Was Aladdin Arab? South Asian, Persian? These were all different ethnicities, yet the movie seemed to be an amalgamation of them all, set in a fiction land I could not identify.

Why is Disney’s Aladdin Harmful?

It may not seem like a big deal to be misidentified in this way, but it is. And these stereotypes that have been present in Hollywood for decades are a huge disservice to our communities- all our communities- because when you misidentify a person’s culture, you are saying that all people of color are interchangeable— which is dehumanizing.

With the new release of the live action version, “Aladdin” is reinforcing the trauma and obstacles we have had to fight for the last 30+ years. The addition of a diversity consulting firm made Disney look good; it showed good faith on their part to receive feedback on the script to try and improve it.

However, issues remain with the original story itself, and no amount of consulting will change that.

Although the Aladdin remake was marked by controversy over Disney “brown-facing” its white cast, and despite original Aladdin’s racist history, last weekend Disney’s live-action version soared to $207.1 million globally. Money experts tell us that the remake success comes from the “power of nostalgia”- that is, the film’s ability to connect with feel-good memories.

The original production is the second highest grossing film project in Disney history. Last weekend, millions flocked to the remake in record numbers, despite critics’ negative and mixed reviews.

The accompanying Aladdin Jr. play is also a major concern, sales of which will skyrocket because of the film. Disney only recently removed the word ‘barbaric’ in its description of Arabs in the opening song. Many more problems abound, but Disney promises through its licensing company, Music Theatre International, to keep the concepts explored in the original production intact.

A Whole New World Needs Less Anti-Muslim Bigotry

From my perspective, as an organizer that fights a huge Islamophobia network in my daily work, it would be a disservice to my work and our community to sit by and allow racist, Islamophobic, orientalist tropes to make their way into our theaters, homes, and schools. What exactly is not a big deal in this movie? The depiction of Arabs and South Asians as one demographic, the storyline of forced marriage, power struggles, a black man playing a genie literally bound by chains to a lamp?

Hollywood’s history of Islamophobia needs to be rectified. There is a plethora of writers, actors and creative minds with alternative positive portrayals of Muslims, Arabs and South Asians. Our consumer appetite must shift to embrace authentic stories and images about people like me.

Aladdin is beyond repair; in its original form, it is problematic. No number of meetings with executives will fix the problems that are still prevalent. It should be retired, indefinitely, and put on the shelf with all the other racist caricatures from Hollywood history.

It’s our duty to speak out- and if you don’t believe we should, then you can choose to stay silent. I cannot.

Jinan Shbat is an organizer in Washington DC.

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#Current Affairs

Faith Community Stands With Peace And Justice Leader Imam Omar Suleiman During Right Wing Attacks

Hena Zuberi

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In a follow up to the right-wing media platforms attack on Imam Omar Suleiman – calling him anti-semitic, a common tactic used to discredit both Muslim activists, as well as criticism of Israel policies, Faith Forward Dallas issued a statement.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanksgiving Square – Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice is a Texas-based interfaith organization that has worked on many initiatives with Imam Omar Suleiman.

The statement reads:

“Imam Omar Suleiman a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice!!!!!

Time after time in our city, in the United States and around the world, Imam Omar Suleiman has been a spiritual and moral voice for peace with justice. When others seek to divide, he calls for unity. Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square works to unite faith leaders for justice and compassion. Imam Suleiman has been a trusted leader among us. In the wake of his beautiful prayer to open the House of Representatives on May 9, he has received threats of violence and words of vilification when instead he should have our praise and prayers. We call upon people of good will everywhere to tone down the rhetoric, to replace hate with love, and to build bridges toward the common good.

Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square”

Commenters on the Faith Forward Dallas statement have left comments of support.

The group has invited locals and other leaders to endorse and share the statement. “Endorsed! I love and fully you Imam Omar Suleiman!” wrote Karen Weldes Fry, Spiritual Director at Center of Spiritual Learning in Dallas (CSLDallas), commenting on the statement.

Some commentators do not understand the manufactured controversy.  Heather Mustain writes, “What people are writing is so vile. They obviously didn’t even listen to his prayer!” Imam  Omar Suleiman delivered the opening prayer in the US House of Representatives on May, 9th, 2019  at the invitation of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D) of Dallas, TX.

“I’m grateful for the faith leaders with whom I’ve built relationships with and served with for years that have shown full support throughout this process. Together we’ve stood with one another in solidarity in the face of bigotry, and in the support of others in any form of pain. We will not let these dark forces divide us,” said Imam Omar Suleiman in response to the outpouring of love from the people he has worked with on the ground, building on peace, love, and justice.

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