• Tag Archives Islam
  • The Titan Joins The Gods

    Muhammad Ali
    Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali is dead.

    At 74.

    I remember him boxing. I remember Howard Cosell.

    From the New York Times:

    Muhammad Ali, the three-time world heavyweight boxing champion who helped define his turbulent times as the most charismatic and controversial sports figure of the 20th century, died on Friday. He was 74.

    His death was confirmed by Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman.

    Ali was the most thrilling if not the best heavyweight ever, carrying into the ring a physically lyrical, unorthodox boxing style that fused speed, agility and power more seamlessly than that of any fighter before him.

    But he was more than the sum of his athletic gifts. An agile mind, a buoyant personality, a brash self-confidence and an evolving set of personal convictions fostered a magnetism that the ring alone could not contain. He entertained as much with his mouth as with his fists, narrating his life with a patter of inventive doggerel. (“Me! Wheeeeee!”)

    And Peace be upon him.


  • Danish Police Stop Attack on Cartoonist who Drew Cartoon Prophet Muhammad

    From the New York Times:

    Police foiled an attempt to kill an artist who drew a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad that sparked outrage in the Muslim world, the head of Denmark’s intelligence service said Saturday.

    Jakob Scharf, who heads the PET intelligence service, said a 28-year-old Somalia man was armed with an ax and a knife when he attempted to enter Kurt Westergaard’s home in Aarhus shortly after 10 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Friday.

    The attack on the artist, whose rendering was among 12 that led to the torching of Danish diplomatic offices in predominantly Muslim countries in 2006, was ”terror related,” Scharf said in a statement.

    ”The arrested man has according to PET’s information close relations to the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaida leaders in eastern Africa,” he said.

    Police shot the Somali man in a knee and a hand, authorities said.

    More from Reuters:

    Westergaard, 74, who depicted Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban, was not hurt in the incident, a police spokesman said.

    He said police were investigating whether the Somali man acted alone in the attempted attack at Westergaard’s home, which is widely reported to be under tight security.

    Last year, U.S. authorities arrested two men in Chicago who were suspected of planning attacks on Westergaard and his newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which published the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

    For your consideration, without comment.

    Anyone?


  • Swiss Slam Islam, Vote to Ban New Minarets

    Minarets

    I just can’t wrap my head around this one.

    The Swiss, who already guarantee freedom of religion in their constitution, passed a Constitutional ban on the construction of new minarets.

    Somehow, some way, minarets were linked with political activism by the right wing in Switzerland.

    From the New York Times:

    In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques, in a referendum drawn up by the far right and opposed by the government.

    The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.

    The Swiss Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the rightist Swiss People’s Party, or S.V.P., and a small religious party had proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets, leading to the referendum.

    The Swiss government said it would respect the vote and sought to reassure the Muslim population — mostly immigrants from other parts of Europe, like Kosovo and Turkey — that the minaret ban was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture.”

    Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the justice minister, said the result “reflects fears among the population of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies.”

    While such concerns “have to be taken seriously,” she said in a statement, “The Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies.”

    The primary purpose of a minaret is "to provide a vantage point from which the call to prayer (adhan) is made," according to Wikipedia. "Minarets also function as air conditioning mechanisms: as the sun heats the dome, air is drawn in through open windows then up and out of the minaret, thereby providing natural ventilation."

    Swiss Anti-Minaret Campaign Poster

    The secret to the success of this vote is the trashy campaign waged by the Swiss weird right. According to the NYTimes:

    Campaign posters depicting a Swiss flag sprouting black, missile-shaped minarets alongside a woman shrouded in a niqab, a head-to-toe veil that shows only the eyes, starkly illustrated the determination of the right to play on deep-rooted fears that Muslim immigration would lead to an erosion of Swiss values.

    In a recent televised debate, Ulrich Schlüer, a member of Parliament from the S.V.P., said minarets were a symbol of “the political will to take power” and establish Shariah, or religious law.

    He also claimed that Switzerland already suffered from thousands of forced marriages.

    Some analysis from Al Jazeera:

    Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Bern, the Swiss capital, said: "There is concern in Switzerland undoubtedly about what is being seen as the spread of radical Islam, but the Muslim community here has always been regarded as fairly moderate.

    "They were saying that they wanted to see this proposal defeated, so I’m sure it is a real shock to them that at the moment we are seeing that most of the people here have voted in favour of [the ban]."

    After the official results were known, far-right politicians celebrated, while the government sought to assure the Muslim minority that a ban on minarets was "not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture".

    Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Switzerland’s justice minister, said the result "reflects fears among the population of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies".

    "These concerns have to be taken seriously … However, the Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies," she said.

    Farhad Afshar, who heads the Co-ordination of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, said that "the most painful for us is not the minaret ban, but the symbol sent by this vote."

    Supporters of the ban say minarets represent the growth of an alien ideology and legal system that have no place in the Swiss democracy.

    "Forced marriages and other things like cemeteries separating the pure and impure – we don’t have that in Switzerland, and we do not want to introduce it," Ulrich Schlueer, co-president of the Initiative Committee to ban minarets, said.

    Therefore, there’s no room for minarets in Switzerland."

    But Switzerland’s Muslims have said that the referendum is fuelling [sic] anti-Islamic feeling in the country.

    "The initiators have achieved something everyone wanted to prevent, and that is to influence and change the relations to Muslims and their social integration in a negative way," Taner Hatipoglu, the president of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Zurich, said.

    Muslims in Switzerland say they are frightened by the vote, and the apparent rise of anti-Islam hatred.

    What would have happened if the Swiss had put a referendum on the ballot to ban the construction of new steeples for Christian churches? Imagine the outcry that would ensue if an anti-steeple initiative made it to ballot in the United States…


  • Women Suffer in Iraq

    There aren’t many stories in the United States media about how highly women are generally regarded in Islam.  Many choose to focus on how repressed women are, often without cause.  Muslims I have come to know in the Chicagoland area are proud to share who they are, and how poorly the American media has told their story.

    Iraq is a different story.  The American occupation has not helped, according to journalist Dahr Jamail.  While no one denies that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, women actually fared better in Iraq prior to the American invasion:

    Former dictator Saddam Hussein maintained a relatively secular society, where it was common for women to take up jobs as professors, doctors and government officials. In today’s Iraq, women are being killed by militia groups for not conforming to strict Islamist ways.

    Basra police chief Gen. Jalil Hannoon told reporters and Arab TV channels in December that at least 40 women had been killed during the previous five months in that city alone.

    Read the rest of Jamail’s account here.