Border Mosque, Enes Kanter vs Turkey, Ghosts of Sugar Land

So! Many! Shadowy! Counterterrorism! Programs! 👻

Salaam, friends! 👋 I’m journalist Aysha Khan, and you’re reading my monthly roundup of the latest news stories about Muslims in the U.S.

📌 TOP PICKS

CNN — Since 2008, an obscure federal national security program called the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program has ensnared thousands of Muslim immigrants. If you only click one link in this email, let it be this one.

NYT — “My dream is to bring my family here. I’m afraid my mom and dad will die before I can touch them again.” Rohingya children who fled persecution in Myanmar found safe haven in the U.S. Thanks to the Trump administration’s historic restrictions on refugee admissions, they might never see their parents again.

The Economist — “The intimidation, the incarceration of our loved ones is very constant.” China’s efforts to suppress Uighurs and clamp down on news of Xinjiang’s gulag have extended far beyond its own borders. Few exiles have faced more intimidation than the 12 U.S. Uighurs who produce Radio Free Asia’s relentless Uighur-language reporting.

Detroit Free Press — Ten years ago this week, FBI agents shot and killed Imam Luqman Abdullah, who headed a Detroit mosque, during a raid on a Michigan warehouse. His family, friends and followers are still reeling from his death, which they believe was a “total miscarriage of justice.”

🗳 POLITICS

  • In Nashville, the country’s largest Kurdish community questions Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria: “It’s a cycle of genocides and betrayals.” From North Dakota to San Diego to Boston, Kurdish Americans have reacted to the move with shock and anger.

  • After “Uncle Bernie” suffered a heart attack, I discovered a group of young Muslims that set up a Quran khatm group on WhatsApp to pray for the candidate’s health. We’ve already discussed Muslims’ strong support for Sen. Sanders in a previous edition, but JTA looked at it again recently, and The Juggernaut also explored South Asian Americans’ support for the candidate.

  • A Senate intelligence committee report recounts efforts by Russian trolls to orchestrate a clash in Houston between local Muslims and anti-Muslim demonstrators in 2016, one of many instances of Russia trying to stoke unrest in the United States.

  • Giuliani apparently urged Trump to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, in 2017. Extraditing Gulen to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt is a top priority of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as my friend Claire Sadar explained a few months back.

  • When Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter attended the Islamic Society of Boston for Friday prayers, he says he was harassed by a group of “thugs” loyal to Erdogan who called him a traitor and told him to leave the mosque. Local police concluded there was no criminal activity involved in the incident, which Kanter believes was retaliation for his outspoken criticism of Erdogan’s authoritarianism and support of the cleric Gulen.

  • “For the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, to single you out as dangerous hurts.” For Minnesota’s Somalis, it was jarring to see Trump criticized Minnesota at his rally in the state for its large Somali refugee community. To see many in the audience instantly begin booing and jeering at the mention of Somalis was perhaps even worse.

  • Despite Trump's attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar, many of her Minnesota constituents say that it has only made their support of her stronger.

  • ACT for America, considered the country’s largest anti-Muslim group, planned its upcoming annual banquet at the president’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago. After the news became public early this month, the resort quickly disinvited the group—but days later another anti-Muslim group, the Center for Security Policy, received a permit hold a private event at the resort.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a petition to hear a case brought by woman who claimed that her high school world history coursework violated her First Amendment rights by endorsing Islam.

  • A U.S. citizen was picking up wedding gifts for his daughter at an airport customs office when Customs and Border Protection detained him, seized his devices, searched his car and questioned his family—even though he wasn’t crossing a border. At the airport, the Muslim man found himself in a “legal gray zone, where constitutional norms are suspended and Homeland Security asserts itself unflinchingly,” The Intercept reports.

  • A coalition of civil rights organizations has sued the U.S. government to release documents related to the surveillance and investigation of resettled refugees.

  • In “The Feeling of Being Watched,” journalist-researcher Assia Boundaoui uncovers one of the country’s largest counterterrorism probes ever, taking place right inside her Arab American neighborhood in suburban Chicago. (You can see the stunning film for free here for a few more days. 🎬) Now, she’s partnering with MIT’s Open Documentary Lab to use artificial intelligence to fill in the blanks of thousands of heavily redacted government documents she’s received through FOIA requests.

  • Despite heightened state scrutiny of Muslim donors and charities after 9/11, and renewed anxiety under the Trump administration, U.S. Muslims have only stepped up their civic and philanthropic activities.

  • A Brooklyn woman is suing the government after her naturalization ceremony was scheduled and abruptly canceled, with no reason provided, after five years of waiting for a date.

  • A federal court has ruled that a Muslim inmate can grow a fist-length beard, regardless of Florida prison policy’s limits.

  • There’s a slew of new employment discrimination cases, including a Delaware woman who complained she was ordered not to wear a hijab to her job and a DMV employee who complained his requests to attend Jummah were denied.

  • About 60 Amazon warehouse workers, mostly Somali women, walked out of a Minnesota delivery center. Their demands include an end to a 30-hour weekly workload cap, higher night shift wages and weight restrictions on boxes.

  • Counterterrorism programs are increasingly surveilling Muslim youth on social media 👁

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

  • A Minnesota mosque that was targeted in a 2017 bombing has recently found itself the subject of an “expose” video series by a local right-wing site. Now, mosque leaders report that incidents of people filming and photographing outside the mosque have escalated: strangers are now filming the Muslim children playing at the nearby playground.

  • A 16-year-old runner had just finished her greatest race to date at a local 5K run. Then, officials told her that her hijab violated the uniform policy and that she had been disqualified.

  • Polling finds that people in the U.S. and Western Europe largely say they accept Muslims. Opinions on Islam, though, are much more divided.

  • The rate of students ages 11-18 in California who report being bullied for being Muslim has dropped significantly from 2017, but it's still more than double the average national rate for students of all backgrounds.

  • Muslim kids are learning to handle harassment, teach their peers about their faith and create more tolerant school environments through a national Youth Speakers Training program.

  • In New York City, one Muslim woman is teaching her peers how to defend themselves against physical attacks. 💪

  • Three Muslim families claim that the New York City Ferry prevented them from boarding, citing a security issue. Also in New York, a family says that T.J. Maxx employees stood by and did not nothing as another customer cursed them out and told them to “Go back to your country!”

  • A San Diego man was charged with hate crimes after he attacked three Muslim women and pulled on one of their hijabs. Also in San Diego, a stranger attacked and injured a Syrian refugee teen after finding out he was Arab.

  • A Florida woman claims she was kicked out of a hotel because she’s Muslim.

  • A Muslim youth hockey coach was shocked by a text message from a student’s father, saying that he doesn’t “feel comfortable” with his son being coached by a Muslim because it “goes against tradition.” 🤔

🕌 COMMUNITY

  • For more than a decade, a United Methodist minister has held a Sunday service at Friendship Park, a historic meeting place on the U.S.-Mexico border where family members separated by their immigration status can interact through border fencing. Since April, a group of Muslims, who call themselves the Border Mosque, have joined the increasingly multifaith Border Church movement. This week, the Border Mosque’s sixth-month anniversary, saw the first-ever Muslim prayer shared across the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

  • In response to the growing number of Muslim migrants south of the border, a group of Latina women in Tijuana are raising money to build a shelter for both Muslim migrants and deported women and children of all faiths.

  • Two decades ago, a young Somali refugee received medical help from a Seattle clinic after she was uprooted from a brutal civil war. This fall, Dr. Anisa Ibrahim became the medical director of the same clinic where she and her siblings were once patients.

  • The Chicago History Museum's brand new exhibit explores the deep history of Muslims in the city known as “American Medina,” from the first Ahmadi U.S. headquarters to the historic mosques at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to Imani’s iconic bean pies.

  • Imam Fateen Seifullah wants to transform the City of Sin into the City of Light. ✨ The imam, who leads in the oldest mosque in the Las Vegas area, has spent the past decade leading an effort to develop a “Muslim Village” just outside the glitz and hedonism of the Strip. 

  • Three years ago, fed up with the annoyances presented by dress codes at their existing sports clubs, a group of Muslim teens started their soccer camp for Muslim girls in Bellevue, Washington.

  • The principal of Illinois’ Muslim Community Center Academy is the first Islamic school principal to receive the National Distinguished Principal Award.

  • NPR features a monthly walking tour of New York City’s Muslim forgotten history. NYT, the New Yorker and others have covered it previously.

  • The 25-year-old woman found dead in a Staten Island park last week was a Muslim woman advocate for women embroiled in domestic violence and was the first-ever volunteer at the Asiyah Women’s Center. Authorities are treating the case as a potential homicide.

🧠 ARGUMENTS

  • Arsalan Iftikhar says that combatting anti-Muslim sentiment means critiquing both sides of the aisle: “…the specter of liberal Islamophobia seems to revolve around a disdain for the religious freedoms of Muslim citizens when they supposedly contradict with culturally relative Western liberal orthodoxies.”

  • The Muslim travel ban is “shameful for the ways in which it has both traumatized and devastated Yemeni families and their economic survival," Louise Cainkar writes.

  • Though British and American Muslim communities are more connected than ever, there are still some key differences between the groups, the researchers behind a recent report on the “Muslim Atlantic” explain.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar has failed to live up to the expectations of her American Muslim supporters, one Muslim lawyer argues.

🎭 CULTURE

  • Bassam Tariq’s new documentary short “Ghosts of Sugar Land” untangles what happened to his group of young Muslim friends in suburban Texas when one of them moved to Syria to join ISIS. Tariq, who’s currently wrapping up another project featuring actor Riz Ahmed, also spoke to the Texas Observer and Texas Standard about the documentary, which is now on Netflix. 🎬

  • “Food is the identity of the Syrian people.” Next time I’m in Providence, I’m going to stop by Aleppo Sweets, a restaurant and bakery serving baklava that is, by all accounts, magical.

  • In a world of long sleeves and longer hemlines, what does it mean to dress according to religious rules? Yasmin Khatun Dewan looks at the co-opting of modest fashion.

  • Meet fashion’s newest It girl: Ugbad Abdi, a Somali American teen who wears a hijab.

  • In Honolulu, the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art is redefining its vision for the genre.

  • Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s stunning new show in L.A is her largest exhibition to date. She spoke to the L.A. Times about how her work challenges the idea of Muslim women as victims and how Iranian people are defined by “politics and poetry.”

  • When 9/11 happened, he left his medical degree behind and pursued his calling teaching Americans about Islam. Today, he’s the founder of Georgia’s Madina Institute and author of the “The Book of Love.”

  • Hasan Minhaj steals the show as a Vanity Fair cover boy.

  • Filmmaker Nia Malika Dixon tells stories for black Muslim women.

👌 SHOUT OUT

Meet The Drinking Gourd, a brand new literary magazine by and for black Muslims. The name, founder Vanessa Taylor and other team members explain on their site, is derived from the African American folksong “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,” which points to the Big Dipper and the North Star—and to freedom.

“By naming ourselves in this way, we bring in the memories of enslaved African Muslims and their pursuit of freedom throughout the Americas,” the site explains. “We center ourselves within the legacies of Black Muslim liberation theology and Afrofuturism.” Check the site out here, and donate to it here. 💸

🗣 TALK TO ME

As always, please send me your comments, questions and corrections! Otherwise, we’ll chat again in a few weeks, inshaAllah. 👋

- Aysha

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