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Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Sarkozy Distracting French Public by Crusading Against Muslim Women’s Rights to Hijab

Amad Abu Reem




With input from resident MM Frenchman, Nadim

In stark contrast to Obama’s call for respecting the Muslim women’s right to observe hijab, as well as the lack of any official effort in the United States to prevent a Muslim woman from chosing to wear whatever she wishes to, Sarkozy has launched a frontal attack on the Burka (the hot-button word for full niqaab).

The reference of burka has another dimension to it since that is the common terminology for Afghani-style hijab/niqab, where France has recently sent troops. Thus, building the propaganda of “fighting for womens rights” as a means to justify its unpopular war.

This French President, described in a recent book (failed to be blocked from publication — so much for free speech!) as an uncaring father and a womanizer wants to now tell Muslim women how to dress. I’d like to ask Sarkozy that if he can tell us how we should dress, then under equal rights of the “republic”, why can’t Muslims tell French women how not to dress?  We are even willing to donate some extra clothing material to help the near-nudity on display everyday in this model nation!

For a President to devote significant time to the hijab in an important speech to the Parliament, the first one since the 19th century, is a clear indication that Sarkozy is running out of ideas to save the country from its economic and social ills. By letting the public focus on a clearly divisive issue, but one whose inherent prejudice bonds French citizens across the political spectrum, Sarkozy wants to use this “coalition of bigots” to distract the public from real problems.

This low-level terror against minorities is not a new phenomenon. Historically, other tyrants and dictators have used anger and prejudice against minorities to help their own standing with the people. Hitler used the Jewish people as his whipping-boy. Sarkozy is on the same track, albeit several steps back. But mark my words: if this helps him, he will continue on the path of trying to implement this French sense of superiority over its Muslim minority, to the point that it will cause more fissures between the Muslim community and the non-Muslim majority.

On the path of this “Frenchize” culture would be a ban on beards. Far fetched? Think again. The French government was ready to deny entry of students who wear a beard since beards can be interpreted as a religious sign. This was only rejected because the head of the schools realized that it was too difficult to manage, not because it would be against freedom of religion.

If Sarkozy thinks that he can force the will of the majority over its minority in the matter of dress choice, then he is sadly mistaken, and setting the French society up for a massive clash.

It is interesting that many Europeans fled Europe for America’s shores about three centuries ago to escape religious persecution. While Europe has claimed great progress in freedom of religion, time and time again, we see the rise of religious persecution. It seems that some people can never quite get it right on rights, and Sarkozy is just another stark example of what’s wrong with Europe, and France in particular.


May Allah protect our Muslim sisters from cultural terror and religious persecution wherever it raises its ugly head, and may He protect them and allow them to wear whatever they choose to wear, when done solely for the sake of their Lord.

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").



  1. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 12:07 AM

    Ameen! Jazakhallah khair brother for raising the awareness. May Allah(swt) defeat enemies of Islam, Ameen.

  2. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    June 23, 2009 at 12:16 AM

    It is essential to understand these developments not only in light of the rising population of Muslims in France (many of whom are from underprivileged backgrounds and living in sub-standard ghettoized conditions), but also in light of France’s rather unique and, at times, hostile definition of secularism, known as laicity.

    The French have been indoctrinated into viewing any overt display of religion, and especially discussion of religion in a political context, as somehow infringing on that laicity, which they hold more sacred than God Himself . This concept is in fact enshrined in the the very first article of their constitution. While these laws were originally formulated to diminish the power of the Catholic church, of late they have been wielded by increasingly Islamophobic politicians to garner up more votes and support from their constituents.

    The situation for the Muslims in France is perhaps the most volatile in all of Europe; the social and political factors that they find themselves in are of the most unique in the Western world. This situation is one that we should all be watching and reading up on, for obvious reasons.

    May Allah make their affairs easy for them, and guide them to fight for their religious rights in a legitimate manner – one that preserves their dignity and does not harm their cause.

    • Avatar


      June 23, 2009 at 1:21 AM

      Why can’t they see the contradiction? To forbid hijab is an overt display of religion: the religion of forbidding what Allah has made obligatory. At the end of the day, he is enforcing his own religious beliefs in the political context.

      He says, “The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience”. Yes, subservience to God! Has he no sense??

    • Avatar


      June 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM

      Salamu alaykum Sh. Yasir,

      I wanted to ask, that in a nutshell how is the best way/arguments to adebate/refute/discuss/show the fallacy of the extreme secularist positions.

      Are there any points which you think are worthy of us keeping in mind or worthy of mention?


      • Avatar

        Yasir Qadhi

        June 23, 2009 at 1:45 PM

        Very good question; I wish I had all the answers!

        But some basic tangents that should be researched:

        1) The meaning of loyalty to the state (a.k.a. nationalism) and the ways that it has been abused and misused in the last century. Many of those claiming to be ‘free and democratic’ are acting eerily similar to the fascism and Communism that they were so mortally opposed to a few decades ago.

        2) The history of Western values (terms such as ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’, ‘separation of church and state’, etc.). These are empty slogans, devoid of real meaning, because each group uses it with a different connotation. Even the grandparents of this generation viewed these exact terms in a different light. How did these terms evolve, and why are they considered so sacred in our time – to such an extent that merely questioning their sanctity brings about charges of heresy (or, to be more precise, treason!)

        3) The purpose and role of a modern state. What we are seeing is that the modern secular state (and in particular America), which was founded on the premise of being as non-interfering in the private and religious lives of its citizens as possible, has in fact become just as dogmatic and overpowering as any orthodox religion. It demands the same ultimate loyalty, and expects the same sacrifices, as a god would. Yet that is not the original intent or role of these political institutions, and if they continue down this route they will inevitably fail. No human being will love a man-made institution like he will the Being whom he believes created him, hence if the state attempts to curtail that love, they are asking for trouble and eventually bringing about their own downfall.

        The basic point is: we really do need to work hard to ensure our right to practice our faith. And that work will require not just faith and worship, but also practical and educated steps in the ‘secular world’ as well.

        There is no doubt that ultimate victory is by the grace of Allah, but Allah Himself has conditioned that victory on our striving to achieve the goals and working hard to get there. And part of that working hard is getting involved with the system as long as it allows us to do so, and this is clearly what we infer from the prophetic seerah as well.

        • Avatar


          June 23, 2009 at 8:15 PM

          Statement of the day:

          What we are seeing is that the modern secular state (and in particular America), which was founded on the premise of being as non-interfering in the private and religious lives of its citizens as possible, has in fact become just as dogmatic and overpowering as any orthodox religion. It demands the same ultimate loyalty, and expects the same sacrifices, as a god would.

          masha-Allah! Ya Shaykh, may Allah (SWT) increase you in knowledge, wisdom and taqwa.

        • Avatar


          June 24, 2009 at 12:57 AM

          zaadakallah hikmah!

          • Avatar


            June 24, 2009 at 9:49 AM

            I agree with brother Ahmed. That paragraph is profound!

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  4. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    June 23, 2009 at 1:33 AM

    Ameen ya Sheikh!

    Well done on the article akhi… JazakAllah khair for bringing some much needed insight into the issue.

  5. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 1:40 AM

    Also, at a time where his party just won the European elections, Sarkozy is becoming overconfident that he can move to the next item on his agenda backed by his Zionist friends: crush the rise of the Muslims, and unfortunately, our sisters are the weakest, most recognizable target. The crusade continue…

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    Dawud Israel

    June 23, 2009 at 3:16 AM

    I think one way in which we can help our sisters and brothers in France, here, is to find ways to magnify “Ummah Consciousness” or “Ummah Solidarity,” similar to what Ibn Khaldun talks about with Asabiyyah. Discussion happens…yes, but it should go more beyond just talking about it. This is where the challenge is I believe.

    May Allah help the Muslims in France, Ameen.
    Jazaka Allahu khayr for provoking post and comments.

  7. Avatar

    Mehedi Islam

    June 23, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    I think digg website have banned this domain, i can’t seem to submit any articles. So I added the same article to my blog (with cred to muslim matters) and digged it

    • amad


      June 23, 2009 at 9:54 AM

      salam Mehedi,
      jazakallahkhair for doing so.

      If I may request, pls add author and website article link right at the the top of the post, before the text.


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    Faraz Omar

    June 23, 2009 at 8:56 AM

    Very very well said Masha Allah. Baarak Allah feek. May Allah increase ur ilm and give u understanding of Islam.

    I just have one slight issue with the last sentence:

    may He protect them and allow them to wear whatever they choose to wear, when done solely for the sake of their Lord.

    Is that valid?

    • Amad


      June 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM

      as you know there is ikhtilaaf on what constitutes proper and full hijaab, mainly on niqaab’s obligation. That is what the sentence implies.

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    June 23, 2009 at 9:29 AM

    For all the complaints Muslims have about living in America, it’s stories like this one that make me happy to be here.

    May Allah give our sisters and brothers in France — and around the world — sabr and strength.

    • amad


      June 23, 2009 at 9:56 AM

      Yes, absolutely. I agree. There’s a reason that Puritans left Europe for America’s shores. Muslims find themselves in similar situation three hundred years later. No one in American political mainstream would dare to say such things as it would be purely unAmerican. It wouldn’t make sense actually. Why is it the government’s business to regulate what anyone wears??

  10. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    SubhanAllah, a country that has public nude beaches and “soft” pornography on daily television feels that they should be in a position to tell woman how to dress.

  11. Pingback: Sarkozy: A womanizer wants to now tell Muslim women how to dress «

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    Nahyan Inc

    June 23, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    Jazakallahukhair for the article, it’s really mind-boggling how people can be extreme with their view on “freedom” and imposing their understanding of it on others.

    Ameen to the du’a, May Allah help them and make them strong.

    A point to consider
    – this is more reason for Muslims, especially in the West, for us to go outside our bubble and to the larger communities we live in.

    It can’t just be Muslims wining and crying for Muslim rights, we must be a community that brings great value to everyone around us so that they will see the impact of Islam in “their” own countries.

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    June 23, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    I was ordained a Christian clergyman (Lutheran). As a Christian, I am appalled and ashamed at the treatment of Muslims in Western countries. I think France is perhaps worst of all, as it has a tradition of tolerance. The French President is not upholding anything except bigotry and hatred. If I were cynically minded, I’d say that Mr. Sarkozy is just trying to get a better look at Muslim women for his own tawdry reasons. As a Christian, Muslims are my brothers and sisters, made in the image of the Almighty just as we all are.

    • Amad


      June 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

      Robin, appreciate the kind words.

      Reminds me of the verse in Quran [5:85]:

      …And nearest among them in love To the Believers wilt thou Find those who say, “We are Christians”: Because amongst these are Men devoted to learning And men who have renounced The world, and they Are not arrogant.

  14. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 2:52 PM

    Aamin.Sarkozy lost his empty mind.May Allah teach him lesson.If a Muslima wants to wear Hijab on her own then what will you do?We Muslims don’t force our women to wear Hijab.Sarkozy is trying to fight with Muslim world as they did in the past!But he forgets that their these comments makes us MORE stronger.

    • Avatar


      June 23, 2009 at 9:06 PM

      Exactly! As a Muslim woman, I *choose* to wear hijab because I follow Islam, not because someone forced me to.

  15. Avatar

    Ibn AbuAisha

    June 23, 2009 at 4:49 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    BarakAllahu Feek Brothers Amad and Nadim for the insightful article.

    Shaykhana Yasir, are there any books that you would recommend which somewhat discuss the Muslim presence in France or Europe (from a historical perspective or otherwise), something like Sherman Jackson’s Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection which you recommended in your Islam in America Speech?

    May Allah reward you and your family abundantly. Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Mouloud Alouane

      June 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM

      Salaam Brother,

      There is a book which gives a comprehensive history of Muslim minorities and also higlights challenging issues facing Muslim communities in most European societies, including Eastern Europe:

      Muslim Communities in The New Europe,
      Edited by Gerd Nonneman, Tim Niblock and Bogdan Szajkowski.
      Published by ITHACA PRESS (1997).
      I hope you will enjoy reading it. However, please lgive feedback
      Mouloud Alouane.

  16. amad


    June 23, 2009 at 6:09 PM

    And while France burns in its own vain superiority complex, Belgium gets a muhajiba sister in parliament. Scorecard!

  17. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    Btw, who died and made Sarkozy a spokesperson for Muslim women?

  18. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    Time for hijrah

  19. Avatar


    June 23, 2009 at 11:39 PM


    If the West (including France) champions democracy and freedom of religion, why are people being enforced to wear a certain type of clothing? Where’s the liberty in that?

  20. Avatar


    June 24, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    As-salaamu ‘Alaykum

    Would it be possible for one of learned Shuyukh on MM to dedicate a post regarding the legitimacy of the Burka/Niqab in light of Islamic evidences? Wallaahi this is an issue that confuses many Muslims, including myself. Some say that it is a practice that pre-dates Islam. Others say it is a modern practice that originated in Afghanistan.

    I would appreciate it if one of our knowledgeable posters could set the record straight once and for all on what the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the Salaf have to say on the issue.

    BaarakAllah Feekum

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  23. Avatar


    June 24, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    There is a growing trend in Europe in general that is tending towards a neo-fascism packaged sometimes in a liberal but always in a nationalist and anti-immigrant package. Sarkozy is pandering to some of these sentiments. Here is one article on such individuals, Geert Wilders.

    The surprising thing though is that this law they are proposing has support from a cross current of political groups and from what I understand was brought up by the Communists and in some ways is particular to the almost strict and religious stature of Secularism in France. Obama made a swipe at this in his speech in Cairo and I don’t think it went unnoticed by the French. My question though is, is it referring to Hijab which covers the hair or is it about burka in which their is a mesh even over the eyes, and will niqab be allowed?


    • Avatar


      June 24, 2009 at 12:46 PM

      One of the things that sets the USA and Canada apart from France is that secularism has been in service of freedom of religion in North America. France is predominantly Roman Catholic, and the struggles from the Revolution on have been against the then-established Church. In the USA, adherents to many churches, many in conflict, settled for the purpose of practising their religion in peace. The constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion were established so as to not allow any of the many churches to become established. In somewhat different ways, much of this is essentially true in Canada as well. In short, Secularism in France has been a force at odds with the established religious order, and secularism can be a force at odds with all religious expression. (In Quebec, where for so long the Catholic Church dominated society, one can also find this sort of “militant secularism”.) On the other hand, the building of a secular state in the US has been more to ensure that no religious group has an upper hand, and that all might feel free to practise their religion. Admittedly, this has not always held, and even today, people here seem to think this only applies to Protestant Christians, but the courts have usually seen it otherwise. This is very brief and simplistic. By the way, even though a religious Christian, politically, I am light years to the left of Obama and the Democratic Party.

      • Avatar


        June 24, 2009 at 1:48 PM


        Thank you for that very astute reply. I agree, and I think you’ll find most Muslims see the value of the concept of secularism and how it is practiced in America as opposed to France and some of the European nations.

        It is interesting that the secularism in France initially was a response to the establishment of the Church and its power and now has morphed into what it is today — is it a problem the French have with religion in general?

        • Avatar


          June 24, 2009 at 2:55 PM

          I’m not at all sure whether this is a problem that the French have with religion in general. I think it may be that in France, “Secularism” may have reached a level equivalent to religious establishment. What I wonder is, if this kind of law is passed against Muslims — and this is, right now, a law against Islam, hitting at women Muslims — when is there going to be a law against the garb worn by Christian monastics, nuns in particular?

          Make no mistake: this law has many supporters here. My wife tells me that a friend of ours supports it, and she is a professed advocate of civil and human rights. Many Westerners, especially white, middle-class professional and academic “feminists” see this law as a law “liberating” women from oppressive Islam. On that, a posting some days ago on the CBC, someone pointed out that Western women are hardly free in matters of dress, citing the expectations of fashion and work-place dress norms and dress codes.

          White, middle-class Westerners are always ready to tell other people how to live: they are great ones at denying that basic human right, self-determination.

  24. Avatar

    Abdullah Zahir

    June 24, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    ‘Actions speak louder than words.’

    The words Sarkozy spoke were despicable and outrageous.

    Amad, you’ve now written a well-researched and interesting piece exposing the evil and folly of Sarkozy’s deliberate choice of words against us; before writing this you should have already written similarly well-researched and sensible pieces exposing the evil and folly of Obama’s deliberate choice of actions against us.

    Indeed, Sarkozy’s speech against us fits very well with his country’s answering Obama’s call to the world to join him in his despicable and outrageous actions against us–his increasing troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan; his intensifying bombings and killings of Muslims; his driving millions of us out of our homes in Pakistan and Afghanistan and then praising himself and America for giving financial aid to Pakistan; and, all the while, his calling on others, including France and even including us Muslims, to join him in his war against us in the name of rooting out what he, like his comrade Bush before him, call extremism and terror and a grave threat.

    The same speech that you direct us toward so that we can soak in Obama’s hollow words regarding hijab, also has his loaded words in which he invokes the sham government story of the 9/11 attacks–which he tells us is a fact not open for debate–as justification for his escalation of killing us Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan and driving us out of our homes.

    Keep things in perspective, Amad.

    I don’t like Sarkozy. Do you?

    This piece communicates that you don’t.

    I don’t like Obama. Do you?

    I am one of many readers who are dissappointed in your lack of balance and await well-researched and sensible pieces from you exposing Obama’s outrageous wrongdoings and demanding us to stand up and take him to task–not to thank him–wrongdoings which eclipse his occasional decent-sounding utterances, contradict them, and expose them for the shameless boldfaced lies that they are.

    You can write, for instance, on any of the following current news or its like:

    –his drones bombing our Muslim brothers and sisters today and then bombing our funeral in which we bury the dead from the first bombing.
    –Obama’s drones bombing our Muslim brothers and sisters in Pakistan from January until now
    –his drones bombing Muslims in Afghanistan
    –how about his proposal for ‘prolonged detentions

  25. Avatar


    June 24, 2009 at 3:08 PM

    Look guys, I think you are being unfairly harsh on me. I’m just trying to rally my base and turn attention away from the economy. So go easy on me!

  26. Avatar


    June 25, 2009 at 7:22 AM

    how different is sarkozy from taliban when he prevents muslim women from covering up when they do so voluntarily? what else can you expect from someone who doesnt mind his wife stripping down for a photo shoot?

  27. Avatar


    June 26, 2009 at 4:16 AM

    What a surprise. A zionist Jew and former Mossad agent pretending to be a French gentile doesn’t like burqa. I think its high time for a “stop westernization” campaign…

  28. Avatar


    June 26, 2009 at 2:14 PM

  29. Avatar


    September 1, 2009 at 3:07 AM

    Just a request. Don’t conflate Hijab with niqab and niqab with burka.

  30. Avatar


    October 12, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    I live In France
    Sarkozy became the enemy of all Muslims In France!

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#Current Affairs

5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir



“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: and

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 …. s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From ….

Continue Reading


Retire Aladdin To The Ends Of The Earth





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



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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