Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Congress Urged to Drop Evangelist From Event

Taken from here.

WASHINGTON (April 26) -- A Muslim civil liberties group urged Congress to disinvite evangelist Franklin Graham from a prayer event, just days after the Pentagon booted the minister from another gathering because of his anti-Islam remarks.

Graham is scheduled to attend the congressional National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill on May 6. He was to have led services at the Pentagon the same day but was told last week that he was no longer welcome after Army leaders decided his comments that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion" were a problem. Graham refused to back down, saying on Fox News that Muslims were "enslaved" by their beliefs.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations pushed Congress to rescind evangelist Franklin Graham's invitation to attend the National Day of Prayer on Capitol Hill.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations "supports the desirable goal of bringing Americans, regardless of their faith traditions, together in prayer," said Corey Saylor, the group's national legislative director. "However, a congressional prayer observance should reflect the best of our nation's ideals. Speakers such as Franklin Graham reflect a message of religious intolerance, rather than the more American message of differing faiths united in shared support of our nation's founding principles."

In a message to supporters on his website, Graham thanked "the many thousands of believers" who have offered support since he was ousted from the Pentagon event, saying, "Recent events have demonstrated just how desperately our nation needs to turn to God." He said he would "be leading many in prayer at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., and I hope millions more will be joining us at prayer events throughout the nation."

A spokesman for Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., a member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the sponsor for the last two years of the congressional National Day of Prayer observance, said he will not rescind Graham's invitation.

D.J. Jordan, Aderholt's spokesman, said Focus on the Family founder James Dobson would take part in the Capitol Hill service, as would his wife's group, the National Day of Prayer Task Force. The task force -- whose mission is to "publicize and preserve America's Christian heritage" -- pulled out of the Pentagon event after Graham was uninvited. Shirley Dobson blamed "atheist groups" for what she called an "assault on religious freedom and people of faith."

Aderholt and other members of Congress have spoken out against a ruling by a federal judge in Wisconsin that found the National Day of Prayer first authorized by President Harry Truman to be unconstitutional.

President Barack Obama has said his administration will appeal the ruling. On Sunday, he demonstrated his personal respect for the importance of prayer by visiting and praying with ailing evangelist and presidential adviser Billy Graham at his North Carolina home. Franklin Graham, Billy's son, was also at the meeting.

According to The Associated Press, Franklin Graham said he spoke briefly to the president about the Pentagon controversy. "I wanted to make him aware of that," the younger Graham said. "He said he would look into it."

"We're not commenting on what was discussed in a private conversation," White House spokesman Bill Burton said. "No one here is organizing the Hill prayer event."

Army spokesman Wayne Hall declined to comment on whether the White House had contacted the Pentagon chaplain's office. "It would be inappropriate for the Army to discuss executive communications between the White House and Army leadership," he said.

Hall said the Pentagon National Day of Prayer service is still planned for next week. No replacement speaker has been named.

Mikey Weinstein, whose Military Religious Freedom Foundation originated the protest over Franklin Graham's involvement in the Pentagon event, said his group doesn't get involved in issues beyond the armed forces. But he called it an "extremely huge mistake" for any branch of government to put its imprimatur on Franklin Graham, whom he calls an "Islamophobe, an anti-Muslim bigot and an international representative of the scourge of fundamentalist Christian supremacy."

As for Obama's reported promise to "look into" the Pentagon's decision, Weinstein said: "Our strongest hope is he was saying it the same way that somebody smiles and says, 'Yes,' to crazy Aunt Bertha in the attic, 'Of course, we'll bring up milk and cookies for the Martians who visit you each night.' "

(It's worth noting that the older, Billy Graham, disagrees with his son about Muslims and has reported to say nice things about Muslims.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama hosts Muslim-focused entrepreneurship summit

Taken from here.

(CNN) -- Delivering on a promise he made nearly a year ago, President Obama will host a two-day entrepreneurship summit beginning Monday designed to improve relations with the Muslim world.
"It represents an opportunity to highlight and support business and social entrepreneurship in Muslim-majority countries, including their minority populations, and Muslim communities around the world," a statement from the summit's website said.
"Through this summit, the United States seeks both to join existing efforts and inspire new efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation."
The summit will include remarks by the president and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and closing comments from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Participants from more than 40 countries on five continents have been invited to participate, according to the White House. "The summit will highlight the role entrepreneurship can play in addressing common challenges while building partnerships that will lead to greater opportunity abroad and at home," it said.
The president extended the offer for the summit to Muslims around the world while in Cairo, Egypt, in June. In a speech, Obama stressed the importance of "education and innovation" in lands where "there remains underinvestment in these areas." He called for "a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries"
The June address was billed as a fence-mending mission between the United States and Islam, and in it the president urged the Cairo audience and those viewing the speech worldwide to enter a new, productive and peaceful chapter in their relationship.
"I know there are many -- Muslim and non-Muslim -- who question whether we can forge this new beginning," Obama said then.
He added: "It is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward, to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Islam in Indonesia: A Look At Islam in America

Wait, what? That title doesn't even make sense! Watch the video. The socio-political culture on the rise in Indonesia that brings religion and democracy together has been alive and well in Muslim-American culture for quite some time!

The video is taken from here.

Taliban Increasingly Unpopular in Pakistan

Taken from here.

This article is the first of a two-part series that looks at Pakistanis' and Afghans' views of the Taliban's influence and their respective countries' efforts to combat terrorism.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Taliban's presence on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is largely unwelcome, but increasingly so in Pakistan, where Gallup surveys show they have lost much of the little appeal they had. Four percent of Pakistanis in a November-December 2009 poll, conducted prior to Pakistan's current push to rout the Taliban within its borders, said the Taliban's presence in some areas of the country has a positive influence, down from 15% in June.
Gallup most recently polled Pakistanis in the particularly deadly period after the army's anti-Taliban operations in the South Waziristan tribal area started in October. Retributive militant attacks across Pakistan reportedly have claimed more than 600 Pakistanis' lives since then, which the public's increasingly negative view of the Taliban may reflect.
The Taliban lost support in every region of Pakistan. But nowhere are they more unpopular than in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), ground zero for a full-scale military offensive against the Taliban last May. In November-December 2009, 1% of NWFP residents said the Taliban have a positive influence, down from 11% in June. The percentage saying the Taliban's influence is positive in Baluchistan, which abuts South Waziristan, dropped from 26% to 5%.
On the other side of the border, Afghans agree with Pakistanis that the Taliban have a negative influence. However, Afghans' views have remained relatively unchanged despite the Taliban's threats and violence before the presidential election in August. In both surveys in 2009, roughly 8 in 10 Afghans said the Taliban has a negative influence.
Majorities of Afghans in every region of the country see the Taliban as a negative influence, with their opinions changing little throughout 2009. Residents in the South, which included people in Kandahar, where U.S. and coalition forces are expected to challenge the Taliban this summer, continued to be more likely than others to say the Taliban have a positive influence. But even so, the majority said the Taliban have a negative influence.
Bottom Line
Gallup's surveys show few Afghans and even fewer Pakistanis view the Taliban's presence as a positive influence, which suggests there may be popular support for government efforts to dislodge the Taliban. Public support will be an important factor in the coming months if Pakistan continues its anti-Taliban operations and as the U.S. and coalition forces begin their offensive in Kandahar.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact worldpollpartners@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.
Survey Methods

Tariq Ramadan Revisists U.S.

Taken from here.

In 2004, the Bush administration barred prominent Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan from entering the United States, accusing him of giving money to a charity that funds terrorists. For the last six years, Ramadan has been fighting the ban, saying the charity was not on any terrorist watch lists at the time and he was unaware of any ties to terrorists. The Obama administration lifted the restrictions against Ramadan in January, and last week he made his first visit to the US since the ban was reversed. Watch excerpts from his April 12 address at Georgetown University and his conversation with journalists, including Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly managing editor Kim Lawton. Ramadan discusses fear of the religious “other” and the need for policies that foster a better understanding of Islam, US relations with the Islamic world in the wake of President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, and the new visibility of Islam in the West and current debates in Europe over whether to ban the burqa, the niqab, and other Islamic garments.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

South Park Insults the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), But That's Not My Biggest Concern

In a recent episode, the Comedy Central show, South Park aired an episode where the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was shown in a bear costume. Apparently, this is the second time that South Park has depicted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on their show. Unfortunately, what is as disturbing as the episode itself, is the media's portrayal of the issue.

CNN's Anderson Cooper's Blog Article on the subject reads: "Evening Buzz: Radical Islamic Website Warns 'South Park' Creators. It's sad that even when Muslims are victim to defamatory and insulting comments, the media still depicts them as the bad guy. Instead of the media focusing on the unnecessary and rude comments made by the South Park creators, the media focused on the reaction Muslims had towards such acts. Apparently, Anderson Cooper has no problem fighting for the freedom to insult Muslims, but he does have a problem with Muslims getting upset about it.

Instead of focusing on the content of the South Park episode, Cooper focused on a blog post by Revolution Muslim, a blog based in New York, which decried the South Park episode, and created a video discussing what happened to certain people who insulted the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) during the Prophet's lifetime. And that's the rub. Anderson Cooper needs to be even-handed. If he's OK with South Park insulting Islam, then he should be OK with Muslims insulting South Park. Why isn't the article entitled "Radical Show Insults World's Second-Largest Religion"? Cooper is showing a clear bias in which he is encouraging the insulting of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) while refusing stand by Muslims whose speech is also protected by the 1st Amendment.

A quick note on how Muslims should react to such hate speech perpetrated by shows like South Park. Often, Muslims get upset and sometimes some may become violent more to show off how angry they are than because they actually care that much. It seems that the ones who really love the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would follow his sunnah and act the way he would act. Once, for example, the Blessed Prophet had a neighbor who threw garbage on the Prophet's doorstep every day. Once, when the Prophet Muhammad saw that no one had thrown garbage doorstep, he inquired about the neighbor and learned he was sick. The Prophet Muhammad then visited the neighbor and nursed him back to health. Once the neighbor became better, he embraced Islam. Muslims reading this can think of many other stories but for the sake of brevity, I'll stop here. The point is, that if Muslims want people to see the Prophet Muhammad as the peaceful, caring and loving man that he was, Muslims should also act in that fashion. Death threats and the like don't really help the situation.