A newsletter about Muslims in America. We'll land in your inbox twice a month with quality links, resources and occasional commentary.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Creeping Sharia: Keith Ellison, Enes Kanter, #JusticeforDullahBeard

Also, justice for all beards.

Salaam! I’m writing this from the foothills of Mt. Hood, Oregon, where I spent the past few days attending my first Journalism and Women Symposium conference. As an emerging journalism fellow there, I had the opportunity to meet fellow Muslim women journalists Nesima Aberra (Center for Public Integrity), Sana Malik (soon to be BBC) and Jennifer Chowdhury (freelancer who will soon be in Bangladesh to cover the Rohingya crisis).

Anyways, hire them all! And then read all these stories 👇🏽

  • Imams discrediting and ignoring #MeToo are flubbing an opportunity to live out Islam’s stance on women’s rights (they’re good) and gender violence (it’s bad), Roqayah Chamseddine writes at Sojourners.

  • “Are you one of those camel jockeys?” For Muslim women drivers, road rage can take on a different, more racist tone. Rowaida Abdelaziz at HuffPost writes about the attacks they face and how they deal with them.

  • Learning a lesson. After a Hyatt hotel in Virginia hosted anti-Muslim group ACT for America’s annual conference—and then defended their decision—the company’s CEO now says they’re drawing a line when it comes to hate groups.

  • What’s going on with Keith Ellison? Here’s a quick rundown of the abuse allegations surrounding Rep. Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim in Congress and the leading candidate for Minnesota Attorney General. His former girlfriend Karen Monahan alleges that he tried to drag her off a bed during a fight in 2016, and claims she has video evidence but has not released it. Ellison has denied the accusations and requested a U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation. Far-right critics are using the allegations to fuel Islamophobic attacks on him; his fellow Democrats have largely stayed quiet. The Root also took a hard look at why Ellison, who’s the deputy chair of the DNC, hasn’t been cancelled in this #MeToo moment. A report by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s found Monahan’s claims “unsubstantiated,” and a Minnesota Public Radio review of 100+ private messages shared by Monahan found no evidence of the alleged physical abuse. The whole affair reminds me of that of popular Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who has been accused of rape by several women and lambasted as part of the global #MeToo moment – though his supporters say he’s been denied the usual due process and is the victim of Islamophobic smears. Some progressives who acknowledge Islamophobia and are aboard the “Believe Women” train are caught in a quandary.

  • Double standards on religious liberty. Saying Islam is a political ideology rather than a religion was once a fringe argument. But now state legislators, lawyers, pundits and commentators are increasingly latching onto that idea to argue that Muslims aren’t protected by the First Amendment. Over at the New York Times, Asma Uddin wrote about the troubling new line of attack gaining political traction. (Recommended reading: Back in December, I asked Asma Uddin what changes she predicted the religion landscape will see in 2018. Read her answer.)

  • “A Place For Us” author Fatima Farheen Mirza talked to Electric Literature and The Dallas Morning News about her debut novel, the first book published with actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint. The book focuses on the California-based family of two Indian Shia Muslim immigrants and their children.

  • Trump’s suspicion that Muslim immigrants are a Trojan horse has changed the U.S. Muslim population. Juan Cole, author of a new book on the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), explains how in The Nation.

  • Muslim haute couture catapults into the mainstream 👗 I wrote about a San Francisco museum’s new exhibition on global contemporary Islamic fashions, and what that recognition means for an industry that Western institutions have looked down upon for decades. And here’s my friend Jennifer’s piece on the exhibition in Elle.

  • For black Muslim Americans, the War on Terror began in 1492. “The brutal treatment of Muslims in Afghanistan, the US and beyond has its roots in America's historic abuse of indigenous people,” Documenting Afghanistan founder Mohammed Harun Arsalai writes.

  • Beard bans pose barriers for men of color 👨🏿‍💼 That’s particularly the case for black men, as well as Muslim, Jewish and Sikh men. I was surprised to see that this Vox story didn’t mention Jews or Muslims—many Muslim men keep beards in following with prophetic tradition. This photo essay from the Holy City shows that awesome diversity of beards.

  • A “coordinated plot” by an armed white supremacist militia. Leaked chats offer a graphic picture of how violent the Texas Patriot Network planned to get at the Islamic Society of North America’s conference in Houston.

  • A 180-degree turn. A South Carolina mayor came under fire for posting anti-Muslim memes. Then he met a Muslim for the first time. The next thing he knew, he was attending the local mosque for Eid al-Fitr and helping arrange a town hall event called “Demystifying Islam,” Hannah Alani reports for the Post and Courier.

  • #JusticeforDullahBeard. Michigan police are investigating a Detroit officer’s fatal shooting of Detric Driver, aka Abdullah Abdul Muhaimin or Dullah Beard, during a raid last month. Turns out police got the wrong man, but local Muslims think there’s something else going on: nearly a decade ago, Imam Luqman Abdullah, whom Abdul Muhaimin followed, was killed by FBI agents in a Dearborn during a sting operation. Abdul Muhaimin was one of several followers who’d been arrested by feds during the raids. The FBI depicted the group of African American Muslims as radicals, which the group denies.

  • Didn’t expect Fethullah Gulen to appear in a profile on an NBA athlete, but here we are ⛹🏻 I know nothing about basketball, so I’ll just quote the subhead of The Ringer’s piece on Enes Kanter. “The 26-year-old is many things: New York Knicks center, devout Muslim, star of #NBATwitter, and enemy of the Turkish state. To Kanter, basketball is…a pathway to something he’s lost: family.” 

👌 Shout out to Pop Culture Collaborative

A new report on Islamophobia on-screen identifies racist narratives in pop culture and then flips them around to offer healthier, more nuanced alternatives. Maytha Alhassen, a senior fellow at the Pop Culture Collaborative, just published a new solutions-oriented report “Haqq and Hollywood.”

The Pop Culture Collaborative was established two years ago as a philanthropic resource that aims “to transform the narrative landscape around people of color, immigrants and refugees, Muslims, and indigenous people.”

Want to read more about this issue? At the L.A. Times, Lorraine Ali debunks the idea of a liberal Hollywood when it comes to depictions of Muslims; on The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast, Riz Ahmed, first Muslim actor to win an Emmy, talks about being brown in Hollywood. But also take a look at the report, which mentions plenty of actors, filmmakers, movies and web series that are doing it better. One of those is “Jinn,” a new raved-about film about a young black woman whose mother converts to Islam, that won big at SXSW. FaceTime watch party, anyone?

🗣 Talk to me

As always, send me your comments, questions and corrections!

- Aysha

A newsletter about Muslims in America. We'll land in your inbox twice a month with quality links, resources and occasional commentary.