Please DIGG this to get the word out! And see this cross-post at DailyKos.
For those of you thinking “Oh another political post”, please take a deep breath, click the “Back” button on your browser, and read something else :) For the rest of Muslim Americans, especially and particularly those who voted, this is YOUR thread to share your experiences. Even if you are not a Muslim, feel free to share your experiences :) If you have photos, please e-mail them to us (info at muslimmatters //dot org and pls copy amad at carsreloaded dott com), so we can collect them in this post (of course they must meet the general criteria for photos… photos of obvious-looking Muslims at the polls would be even better).
So, tell us where you voted, how long the lines were, how did you feel, and if you were an obvious Muslim (like a brother with a long, flowing beard or wearing a thowb — how cool would that be — or a sister with a hijab), whether you got any “VIP” treatment or endearing looks or the opposite, and so on. And if you want, you can tell us who you voted for.
What this post is NOT about (and comments straying from this will share the spam fate):
- It is NOT about discussing policy differences between candidates, etc. Kind of too late for that.
- It is NOT about the permissibility of voting. If you did not vote, don’t want to vote, or don’t think it’s right to vote, then please also click “Back” like the politics-fatigued readers :)
- It is NOT about bashing each other (well no posts are for that matter).
Feel free to post links (not complete passages) to relevant articles. Relevant means those that have to do with voting-day dynamics, such as election fraud, lines, polling issues, etc. Relevant does not mean “Obama is the man” or “McCain is big mac”.
Let me share the first link. To T. Ahmed’s article on MM:
Picture below is in a polling location in Delaware, where I caught a Muslimah in line.Â More photos coming!
Democratic operatives were giving out straight-ticket fliers. No Republicans in sight.
The voting booths in DE:
Who’re you gonna vote for… decision time:
My voter-reg card:
More from DE:
Photos from Ohio courtesy Sr. Naima (click to enlarge):
Top image-courtesy Dailykos
Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians
On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.
It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.
Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.
In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.
Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.
Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.
Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.
Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead
Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.
Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.
However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.
Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.
#MyFastMySriLanka Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.
Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.
It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.
I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.
I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.
I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.
Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah
White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism
The vicious terrorist attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 were a punch to the gut for peace-loving people all over the world. Only the most heartless of individuals could feel nonchalant about 70 innocent children, women, and men being killed or maimed mercilessly as they prayed. However, even a brief glimpse at comments on social media confirms that among the outpouring of sadness and shock, there are, indeed, numerous sick individuals who glory in Brenton Tarrant’s deliberately evil actions. White supremacy, in all its horrific manifestations, is clearly alive and well.
In an enlightening article in The Washington Post, R. Joseph Parrott explains, “Recently, global white supremacy has been making a comeback, attracting adherents by stoking a new unease with changing demographics, using an expanded rhetoric of deluge and cultivating nostalgia for a time when various white governments ruled the world (and local cities). At the fringes, longing for lost white regimes forged a new global iconography of supremacy.”
“Modern white supremacy is an international threat that knows no borders, being exported and globalized like never before,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “The hatred that led to violence in Pittsburgh and Charlottesville is finding new adherents around the world. Indeed, it appears that this attack was not just focused on New Zealand; it was intended to have a global impact.” (link)
Many people want to sweep this terrifying reality under the rug, among them the U.S. President. Asked by a reporter if he saw an increase globally in the threat of white nationalism, Trump replied, “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
However, experts in his own country disagree. A March 17 article in NBC News claims that, “The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned in a 2017 intelligence bulletin that white supremacist groups had carried out more attacks in the U.S. than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years. And officials believe they are likely to carry out more.”
Although they may be unaware of — or in denial about –the growing influence of white supremacist ideology, the vast majority of white people do not support violent acts of terrorism. However, many of them are surprisingly, hurtfully silent when acts of terrorism are committed by non-Muslims, with Muslims as the victims.
When a shooter yells “Allahu akbar” before killing innocent people, public furor is obvious and palpable. “Terror attacks by Muslims receive 375% more press attention,” states a headline in The Guardian, citing a study by the University of Alabama. The perpetrator is often portrayed as a “maniac” and a representative of an inherently violent faith. In the wake of an attack committed by a Muslim, everyone from politicians to religious leaders to news anchors calls on Muslim individuals and organizations to disavow terrorism. However, when white men kill Muslims en masse, there is significantly less outrage. People try to make sense of the shooters’ vile actions, looking into their past for trauma, mental illness, or addiction that will somehow explain why they did what they did. Various news outlets humanized Brenton Tarrant with bold headlines that labeled him an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer,” an “ordinary white man,” “obsessed with video games,” and even “badly picked on as a child because he was chubby.” Those descriptions, which evoke sympathy rather than revulsion, are reserved for white mass murderers.
The media’s spin on terrorist acts shapes public reaction. Six days after the Christchurch attacks, millions were not currently taking to the streets to protest right-wing extremism. World leaders are not linking arms in a dramatic march against white supremacist terrorism. And no one is demanding that white men, in general, disavow terrorism.
But that would be unreasonable, right? To expect all white men to condemn the vile actions of an individual they don’t even know? Unreasonable though it may be, such expectations are placed on Muslims all the time.
As a white woman, I am here to argue that white people — and most of all white-led institutions — are exactly the ones who need to speak up now, loudly and clearly condemning right-wing terrorism, disavowing white supremacy, and showing support of Muslims generally. We need to do this even if we firmly believe we’re not part of the problem. We need to do this even if our first reaction is to feel defensive (“But I’m not a bigot!”), or if discussing race is uncomfortable to us. We need to do it even if we are Muslims who fully comprehend that our beloved Prophet said, “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”
While we might not hold hatred in our hearts individually, we do hold the power, institutionally. If we truly care about people of color, peace, and justice, we must put our fragile egos aside and avoid “not me-ism.” The fact is, if we have white skin, we have grown up in a world that favors us in innumerable ways, both big and small. Those of us with privilege, position, and authority are the very ones who have the greatest responsibility to make major changes to society. Sadly, sometimes it takes a white person to make other white people listen and change.
White religious leaders, politicians, and other people with influence and power need to speak up and condemn the New Zealand attacks publically and unequivocally, even if we do not consider ourselves remotely affiliated with right-wing extremists or murderous bigots. Living our comfortable lives, refusing to discuss or challenge institutionalized racism, xenophobia, and rampant Islamophobia, and accepting the status quo are all a tacit approval of the toxic reality that we live in.
Institutional power is the backbone of racism. Throughout history, governments and religious institutions have enforced racist legislation, segregation, xenophobic policies, and the notion that white people are inherently superior to people of color. These institutions continue to be controlled by white people, and if white leaders and white individuals truly believe in justice for all, we must do much more than “be a nice person.” We must use our influence to change the system and to challenge injustice.
White ministers need to decry racial violence and anti-immigrant sentiment from their pulpits, making it abundantly clear that their religion does not advocate racism, xenophobia, or Islamophobia. They must condemn Brenton Tarrant’s abhorrent actions in clear terms, in case any member of their flock sees him as some sort of hero. Politicians and other leaders need to humanize and defend Muslims while expressing zero tolerance for extremists who threaten the lives or peace of their fellow citizens — all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, immigration status, or ethnicity. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is an excellent role model for world leaders; she has handled her nation’s tragedy with beautiful compassion, wisdom, and crystal clear condemnation of the attacker and his motives. Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated superb leadership and a humane, loving response to the victims in Christchurch (and Muslims in general) in his recent address to the House of Commons.
Indeed, when they put their mind to it, people can make quite an impactful statement against extremist violence. In January 2015 when Muslim gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, there was an immediate global reaction. The phrase “Je suis Charlie” trended on social media and in fact became one of the most popular hashtags in the history of Twitter. Approximately 3.4 million people marched in anti-terrorism rallies throughout France, and 40 world leaders — most of whom were white — marched alongside a crowd of over 1 million in Paris.
While several political and religious leaders have made public statements condemning the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, there is much less activism on the streets and even on social media following this particular atrocity. Many Muslims who expected words of solidarity, unity, or comfort from non-Muslim family or friends were disappointed by the general lack of interest, even after a mosque was burned in California with a note left in homage to New Zealand.
In a public Facebook post, Shibli Zaman of Texas echoed many Muslims’ feelings when he wrote, “One of the most astonishing things to me that I did not expect — but, in hindsight, realize that I probably should have — is how few of my non-Muslim friends have reached out to me to express condolences and sorrow.” His post concluded, “But I have learned that practically none of my non-Muslim friends care.”
Ladan Rashidi of California posted, simply, “The Silence. Your silence is deafening. And hurtful.” Although her words were brief and potentially enigmatic, her Muslim Facebook friends instantly understood what she was talking about and commiserated with her.
Why do words and actions matter so much in the wake of a tragedy?
Because they have the power to heal and to unite. Muslims feel shattered right now, and the lack of widespread compassion or global activism only heightens the feeling that we are unwanted and “other.” If 50 innocent Muslims die from terrorism, and the incident does not spark universal outrage, but one Muslim pulls the trigger and the whole world erupts in indignation, then what is that saying about society’s perception of the value of Muslim lives?
To the compassionate non-Muslims who have delivered flowers, supportive messages, and condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and elsewhere, I thank you sincerely. You renew our hope in humanity.
To the white people who care enough to acknowledge their privilege and use it to the best of their ability to bring about justice and peace, I salute you. Please persevere in your noble goals. Please continue to learn about institutionalized racism and attempt to make positive changes. Do not shy away from discussions about race and do not doubt or silence people of color when they explain their feelings. Our discomfort, our defensiveness, and our professed “colorblindness” should not dominate the conversation every time we hear the word “racism.” We should listen more than speak and put our egos to the side. I am still learning to do this, and while it is not easy, it is crucial to true understanding and transformation.
To the rest of you who have remained silent, for whatever reason: I ask you to look inside yourself and think about whether you are really satisfied with a system that values some human lives so highly over others. If you are not a white supremacist, nor a bigot, nor a racist — if you truly oppose these ideologies — then you must do more than remain in your comfortable bubble. Speak up. Spread love. Fix problems on whatever level you can, to the best of your ability. If you are in a leadership position, the weight on your shoulders is heavy; do not shirk your duty. To be passive, selfish, apathetic, or lazy is to enable hatred to thrive, and then, whether you intended to or not, you are on the side of the extremists. Which side are you on? Decide and act.
“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case, he is justly accountable to them for their injury.” — John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.
For the past decade, writer Laura El Alam has been a regular contributor to SISTERS Magazine, Al Jumuah, and About Islam. Her articles frequently tackle issues like Muslim American identity, women’s rights in Islam, support of converts/reverts, and racism. A graduate of Grinnell College, she currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband and five children. Laura recently started a Facebook page, The Common Sense Convert, to support Muslim women, particularly those who are new to the deen.
On New Zealand and Dehumanization
One of the most difficult things to do in moments of tragedy is to take time to properly process one’s own thoughts while simultaneously processing the countless messages and calls of community members and multi-faith colleagues from around the world.
To the non-Muslim colleagues who reached out, supported, and aided Muslim friends and communities around the world, showing solidarity against hatred and violence, thank you. To the many police officers, security personnel, and volunteers who stood by Muslims today as Muslims have stood by others in the past, thank you. To those who contributed to the LaunchGood campaign for the victims’ families, now surpassing the million dollar mark, thank you. To the many community members who gathered for Friday prayers, crowding the mosques with true resilience and steadfastness, thank you.
To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. This life is a temporary stage — a hotel of sorts with an abrupt departure — and our final destination is with the Creator. The brothers and sisters martyred in New Zealand are with their Lord, and we pray for their souls to be accepted as shuhadaa’ (martyrs). Their last deed in this world was to be in a sacred place of worship and community, and we ask Allah to grant us good lives and righteous endings. The deep pain in this tragedy, like many other tragedies around the world, is experienced by the surviving family members, communities of diverse backgrounds, and the entire world.
There are people who wish to divide humanity through dehumanizing rhetoric and physical aggression. Such rhetoric can no longer be overlooked as mere difference of opinion when it clearly fuels violence and death. White supremacy has reared its ugly head time and again in recent years, in the United States, Norway, Canada, France, UK, and New Zealand, amongst other regions, and its normalization in political discourse and platforms will continue to have harmful consequences.
The radicalization of white supremacists, like radicals of other ideologies, is magnified through politicians, media influencers, pseudo-intellects, and online activity, and it needs to be addressed frankly and efficiently. We are far beyond the point of necessary condemnation and we are now in an era of exposed ideologies requiring mobilization and strategic foresight.
Dehumanization and extremism are concerning worldwide, and the reactions (or lack thereof) to such problems on a political level are just as concerning. There are countless examples too lengthy to address here at length; native Uyghurs experiencing genocide in East Turkistan at the hands of the Chinese government, Palestinian natives experiencing ethnic cleansing at the hands of apartheid forces, mass shootings almost weekly in the United States at the hands of white supremacists, drone strikes and bombs dropped on innocent lives in Syria and Yemen, systemic racism against African Americans throughout the USA, border-wall fanatics who seemingly lost their minds and hearts somewhere in the past, ISIS members who have no true religion but one of cultish violence, and countless other examples of dehumanization as a mechanism for radicalization. Place a family member or loved one in the shoes of any group of victims – and the perspective shifts quickly. One of the many root causes of dehumanization is that most hateful individuals refuse to meet, greet, or genuinely befriend “the other” or to consider the consequences of dehumanization on society and the world. Another of the many root causes is the hidden agenda of greed and power, such as that of corrupt corporations, facilitated in many cases through bought-out politicians.
It lifts one’s spirits to see how much support reached Muslims from New Zealand and around the world, as Muslims since 9/11 have constantly been on the defensive and consistently supporting victims of similar tragedies. Muslims are constantly expected to condemn actions which have nothing to do with Islam or 99.9% of the two billion Muslims, and that expectation itself is one of many tactics fueling anti-Islamic rhetoric observed in white supremacists and other groups.
Radicalization is not some abstract invisible phenomenon; radicalization is found in the “speech” of Trump, the rants of Sam Harris and Bill Maher, the far-right politicians of most nation-states, and Fraser Anning, the Australian senator who blamed Muslims and migrants for the New Zealand terrorist attack – less than 24 hours after the tragedy. If such hateful rhetoric results in death and violence, is it still protected as free speech – or has it transgressed a sacred boundary? How can these figures claim to sincerely condemn attacks on Muslims or Jews while facilitating and normalizing anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic rhetoric elsewhere?
To my brothers and sisters in Islam: remember that our Lord is All-Knowing, and His Wisdom doesn’t negate His Mercy and Love. The hardships we see in our lives and the lives around us are multifaceted reminders about the nature of this transient world, the final destination of Paradise, the deeds for which we will be held accountable, and the Day of Justice and Judgment. There is absolutely no injustice committed in this world that remains unresolved in the afterlife. The good and the evil are not the same, nor will they be dealt with equally in the next world. We all belong to Allah, and we will inevitably return to Him regardless of our spiritual states. May we return in a pure, righteous state, serving Him and His creation and leaving behind that which is beneficial for the world.
May Allah have mercy on the martyrs of New Zealand and grant our communities and us resilience and lasting harmony.