On February 15, 2013, Muslim students at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, attended a Friday prayer service, seeking enlightenment and spiritual comfort. Instead they were delivered a Khutbah filled with offensive comments against sexual minorities and women. Unfortunately, the Cornell incident is not an isolated one.
Our government may say that we're engaging the Saudis to foster reform in the kingdom. Apartheid South Africa's allies made similar arguments, calling for "constructive engagement" with the racist regime. Thankfully, Canada rejected that approach and led the world on sanctions, which hastened the end of apartheid.
Members of the audience at the launch of my new book exchanged ideas on modernizing or "moderating" Islam. Was there indeed a window of opportunity to interpret Islam's precepts in line with modern sensibilities on women's rights? Was there potential to change people's attitudes on the status of minorities in Muslim countries?
An unprecedented protest is unfolding in the Balochistan city of Quetta in Pakistan. Thousands of people have staged a sit-in, and are using 93 coffins to block a road to protest the slaughter of Shia Muslims by Sunni Muslim terrorists allied with the Taliban. In their demise is a warning to the rest of us. A nuclear power is about to collapse.
The American Presidential election between Republican Candidate, Mitt Romney and incumbent Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama, takes place in only a two days on November 6, 2012. Its outcome may result in a remarkably different future for many. What happens in the U.S. affects us all -- both here in Canada and overseas. As a Muslim Canadian woman, I wonder, what is on the mind of a Muslim American woman right now?
The fact that most governments and citizens in the west supported the cause of democracy and human rights in the countries of the Arab Spring shows that there is a growing clash of extremists rather than a clash of civilizations. There is a urgent need for leaders in the U.S., Canada and the west to demonstrate to the moderate majorities in all their countries that the extremists in their midst should not be allowed to speak for them.
To my fellow Muslims -- the 99 per cent who are peaceful -- here is my message. Online articles, information and resources, including amateur video productions, are everywhere. "Policing" opinions on religious matters is unrealistic in most instances. But some of you say "Innocence of Muslims" is a special case and should be banned. Personally, I disagree. The video should not be banned, nor should any video that one finds disturbing because of its anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian or anti-religious content. Why? For a number of reasons.
A single murder or suicide of a queer youth is way too many. Fortunately, across the globe, both progressive and conservative Muslims, while differing on same-sex unions, have come out to strongly condemn homophobia in all its ugly forms. Muslim law has always contained majority and minority opinions especially on controversial issues. As such, in contrast to conservative Muslims, progressive Muslims fully support same-sex unions. For them, the Islamic emphasis on justice and compassion outmatches classical rules any day.
It's said that a majority of Muslims have been hijacked by a tiny percentage of Islamic extremists. But it's also true that many Muslims consider the incidents of September 11, 2001, to have been staged by the Bush administration, the CIA, Jews, etc. The question arises as to why a majority of Muslims would assume that nothing bad could be delivered by Muslims? And why have many Muslims related all bad things to the United States, other western countries and Israel? Majority Muslims in the West should open their eyes and minds and get beyond the conspiracy theories.
An 11-year-old Pakistani girl with Downs Syndrome might be put to death for blasphemy. Killing people for expressing negative and/or dissenting views on religion, for burning Qurans, for writing letters -- is this Islam? No. In Islam, a law that penalizes a person for challenging or disparaging the religion -- is blasphemy itself.
One of the most effective ways to counter the rising anti-Muslim sentiment is not only through words, issuing statements and being on the reactive and defensive mode all the time but through a more proactive mechanism to show what Muslims are all about. The anti-Muslim prejudice can only be countered through active participation in the society -- something I witnessed on the last day of Ramadan, at the International Muslim Organization of Toronto.
Is domestic terrorism, instigated by white supremacists, such as Breivik, on the rise? Recently, more incidents of hate crimes are reported to be taking place, with alarming frequency. There have been at least seven reports of hate crimes targeting Muslims and mosques in the last 10 days in the United States. Here in Canada we look down at the U.S. and say, "well, everything is worse down there, more guns, more violence, more racism." Not so fast. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2009, the frequency of hate crimes are up.
The Paris offices of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo were firebombed Wednesday, the same day the magazine released an issue caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad on its cover. This is not the first time that Charlie Hebdo's content has angered Muslims.