A Catholic priest’s defense of Islam in Europe

In his open letter to Dutch MP Geert Wilders, UK Catholic priest Frank Julian Gelli criticizes the MP’s Islamophobic statements.  As a fellow Catholic, I am encouraged by Fr. Frank’s remarks, and I hope more Catholics in Europe and the US come to share his view. Thanks to Saladin128 for the link.

Thoughts from My Teacher

Here is a great op-ed written by John Esposito, one of my former professors at Georgetown.

John Esposito

His piece addresses the wide-spread and unnecessary backlash against the planned Cordoba House, an Islamic and interfaith community center that is to be built blocks from Ground Zero.  Esposito’s views to me seem like common sense, but sadly, there are many in the U.S who still adhere to the fear of Islam that is so destructive to our supposedly tolerant and democratic society.

Illustrations of Islamophobia

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the proposed bans on the niqab and other Islamic religious clothing in many European countries.  The case I’ve been following most closely is in France, where the law is expected to pass soon.  It would ban the few thousand women who wear the niqab (face veil) in public from doing so, and if women refuse to comply, they will be fined or be required to attend a “citizenship” class.

http://ekramibrahim.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/niqab-2.jpg

These European cases, along with the campaign to halt the building of an Islamic center in downtown Manhattan near Ground Zero, are, to me, illustrations of the ever-growing and irrational Islamophobia in the Western world.  Here is an example of the irrationality that surrounds this issue: In an interview with Al Jazeera English, a French parliamentarian claimed that he was made a “victim” by women who choose to wear the niqab because he cannot see their faces.

I recognize, of course, that many Westerners cannot be blamed for their phobic behavior when confronted with the people and symbols of Islam.  The portrayal of Muslims in mainstream T.V. news, especially on cable news channels, leaves Americans with an uninformed and fear-based view of Islam—a view that is hard to shake if a person has no access to other information about the religion and its people.  Only when the media changes its ways in its coverage of Islam will people realize that these campaigns in Europe and in the U.S. are misguided and are driven by fear, as opposed to true concern.

Al Jazeera English has done some good reports about the proposed niqab ban in France, and here’s the most recent report.

Also, guests on the Diane Rehm Show yesterday discussed this issue. I haven’t listened to the whole piece yet but I will post it here, too.

Please respond with comments if you have any!

Noa and Mira: Israeli and Palestinian Lay Groundwork for Peace

Several weeks ago, I heard an interview with musical artists Noa and Mira on Tell Me More, an NPR radio program.  The two featured singers, a Jew and an Arab-Israeli, teamed up to use their fame and talent to promote cooperation in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Their music is trilingual–in Arabic, Hebrew, and English–which makes it especially fun to listen too.

Mira (left) and Noa (right) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127368488

On the show, the performed three of their songs: There Must Be Another Way, A Word, and Will You Dance with Me? and talked about the successes and struggles they’ve had in their goal to lay the groundwork for peace-building.

I’ve looked for MP3s of their music and haven’t been able to find them on iTunes or anywhere else.  So if you find them let me know!