Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Muslims Paid Less in US Since 9/11

A new study has shown that in the five years since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Muslims and men of Arabic descent have seen their earnings and wages drop by some 10 per cent.

The study questioned some 4,000 Muslim and Arab men, and found that the main reason for the drop in earnings was because it was now hard for them to find jobs in the fields they are trained for, and now have to settle for lesser-paying jobs.

The study looked at data from between 1997 and 2005. Ahmed Rehan, from the Council On American-Islamic Relations, said the result "underscores one of the very real ways in which prejudice can hurt a community."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Calling them Islamic fascists can't help


After 9/11, President Bush described our fight against terrorism as a "crusade" _ a statement he later retracted. In his first press conference after the recently thwarted terrorist plot to blow up planes flying from Britain to the United States, the president said, "This nation is at war with Islamic fascists."

The phrase "Islamic fascists" has drawn the ire of the American Muslim community. We use "Islamic ethics" to mean ethics based on Islamic teachings that guide our behavior. Similarly, Islamic art draws its inspiration from Islamic teachings that discourage certain types of art (immodest imagery or certain life forms). When the president uses "Islamic fascists," it conveys that fascism is rooted in or inspired by Islam. This is the way the Muslims see it, regardless of what Bush may claim he really means.

Bush earlier said that Islam is a religion of peace. Now, caving in to extreme right-wing pressure, he's equated the religion of peace with the ugliness of fascism. Such rhetoric contributes to fear of and backlash against American Muslims. A recent Gallup poll shows four out of 10 Americans feeling "prejudiced" against Muslims.

Prejudice against Muslims allowed our politicians to whip up a frenzy in rejecting the proposal of a Dubai firm to operate U.S. ports. Conservative columnist David Brooks wrote, "But it is certain that the xenophobic hysteria will come back to harm the United States. ... (The Mideast) is a region in the midst of traumatic democratic change. The strongest argument the fundamentalists have is that they are engaged in a holy war against the racist West, which imposes one set of harsh rules on Arabs and another set of rules on everybody else. Now comes a group of politicians to prove them gloriously right."

Scholarly writings are delving deeper into the roots of suicide terrorism. Robert Pape, in his book "Dying to Win," uses over two decades of data to show the paucity of connection between suicide terrorism and any religion.

The pioneering instigators and largest purveyors of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are overwhelmingly Hindu. Pape writes, "From Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya, the sponsors of every campaign have been terrorist groups trying to establish or maintain political self-determination by compelling a democratic power to withdraw from a territory they claim." Occupation is the primary motivator, with religion, at best, an "aggravating" factor.

Today we all live in fear of terrorism. Equating terrorism with Islam makes the mainstream Muslim community doubly vulnerable, to both the terrorism and its backlash.

In these trying times it is important that our nation stand united. Muslims form an important part of the fabric of America. We are law-abiding citizens, dedicated to the protection of our national security. We should not be singled out because of our faith.

Nor should our faith be equated with the evils of terrorism or fascism. We have no control over the actions of shadowy terrorist groups. But as taxpayers we certainly have a right to petition and expect our government to do everything in its power to protect us, including rejecting counterproductive rhetoric.

A recent policy brief by the Stanley Foundation states that Western powers "should not focus on the religious and cultural divisions between East and West when approaching this issue (terrorism), as this plays into the existing grievances of Arab and Muslim populations and creates a sense of clash between civilizations, all of which hinder the resolution of differences."

An attempt to institutionally and rhetorically dissociate Islam from terrorism is imperative.

(Parvez Ahmed is board chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.)

Boy Scouts to integrate Islamic faith

Aug. 20, 2006 at 11:57PM

Boy Scout enthusiast Hassene Chaabane is spearheading the formation of the first Muslim troop in Florida's Gulf Stream Council.
The Council covers Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Hendry counties.
"I can't imagine the life of a boy without Boy Scouts," Chaabane, 31, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Chaabane, a native of Tunisia, drives from his home in Hallandale Beach to attend the Boca Raton mosque and help form Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 394. Participating in scouting in his homeland helped him grow into the man he is today, he said.
Members of the mosque approached Jennifer Thomason, district executive of the Gulf Stream Council, about starting a new troop.
She is helping the elders at the mosque train to become troop leaders for the more than 40 children already signed up, while learning about the differences between the Islamic way of raising children and traditional American ways.
Troop 394 will approach scouting from a family perspective, Thomason said, involving girls and parents in activities

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More and more Germans become Muslims
Islam-Institute: Number of converts rising steadily

Posted: August 5, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Wolfgang Polzer

© 2006 ASSIST News Service

SOEST, Germany – More and more Germans are converting to Islam. Last year approximately 4,000 persons became Muslims.

According to the Central Islam-Institute in Soest, the numbers have been rising since the turn of the century. Up to the year 2000 the annual number of conversions stagnated at 300, but it has been rising ever since.

The institute’s director, Salim Abdullah, has no plausible explanation for this trend, as he told the evangelical news agency "idea." In the past, converts were chiefly women, who married Muslims, or academics with an "affection for the Orient."

Today people from all walks of life are among the converts, according to Abdullah, who is a German born Muslim himself.

The Islamic Fellowship of Germany attracts especially high numbers of converts – about 500 per year. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Wuerttemberg (one of the 16 federal states) the fellowship is associated with the radical Muslim Brotherhoods.

According to Abdullah there are 3.2 million Muslims in Germany. Most of them are Turkish immigrants. Their religious life is flourishing. Abdullah expects the number of mosques to double within the coming years.

Currently there are 143 full-fledged mosques, with 128 more in the planning or building stages. In addition Muslims gather in 2,600 prayer and meeting places.

Approximately two-thirds of the 82 million inhabitants are church members. The Protestant Churches have 25.6 million members and the Roman Catholic Church 25.8 million. Approximately 500,000 Germans belong to smaller, often evangelical churches such as Baptists or Pentecostals.

It has been noted by the churches that interest in religion is rising in Germany, but it is not focused on Christianity. Today, the citizens in Martin Luther’ home country are equally fascinated by esoteric practices, Buddhism and Islam

Beach for Muslim Women Planned in Italy

The Associated Press
Friday, August 4, 2006; 12:20 PM

ROME -- Hotels at an Italian seaside resort are eager to act on the town's decision to authorize the creation of all-female beach sections for Muslim women, with at least one hotel owner saying Friday that plans are already under way to open the first of such secluded areas next month.

The city council of Riccione, a popular resort on Italy's Adriatic coast about 90 miles east of Florence, has said it is prepared to authorize requests to set up partitions on parts of the shoreline to satisfy requests from the town's growing numbers of Arab and Muslim tourists.

"They can have anything they want, but they can't go to the beach, at least not without all those heavy clothes," Attilio Cenni, owner of the upscale Grand Hotel des Bains, said of his female Muslim guests.

Cenni said he plans to open the first secluded section starting in September on a stretch of shoreline of about 1,000 square meters (10,000 square feet) and to expand further next season across the more isolated beaches on Riccione's outskirts.

He also plans a TV advertising campaigns in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Cenni told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Popular with German and French tourists, Riccione's mass-tourism venues have recently started to attract thousands of Arab and Muslim visitors each year, mostly from the conservative Arabian peninsula, city officials say.

Supporters of the idea say that the separate beaches would allow observant Muslim women to shed their headscarves and long robes and enjoy the sun in privacy; religious restrictions otherwise oblige them to cover up if men are present.

"I can only be in favor of such a proposal," said Tomas Corazza, manager of the Hotel Mediterraneo. "It allows them to use the beach while respecting their traditions and their religion."

Corazza didn't have immediate plans to open a beach for Muslims this season but said he would advertise this new feature in a mailing list he sends to some 3,000 Arabs who are frequent guests at the hotel.

Cenni said he was already discussing with authorities the only snag in the proposal _ the fact that the partitions won't reach into the sea but will have to stop short of the waterline to allow public passage.

While Riccione's municipality would consider authorizing the construction of reserved seaside swimming pools, Cenni said he hopes he will be allowed to close-off the entire beach with covered partitions and have female lifeguards patrol the sea in water scooters to keep men away. In Italy, all shorelines must be accessible to the public.

"That sounds a little bit like a fantasy," said Andrea Cicchetti, a spokesman for Riccione's mayor.

But Cenni insists that if the partitions are mounted on isolated beaches the inconvenience to passers-by and swimmers will be minimal, allowing his guests to swim without having to don headscarves and robes again.

"These are areas where there is little passage and any problem could be solved with common sense and sensitivity," he said. "We want to make a beach where these ladies will be free."

© 2006 The Associated Press