Terror watchlist, Muslim ban data, #InshallahBernie

Plus, a podcast worth checking out.

Salaam, friends! 👋 Happy autumn.

Last week I returned from Las Vegas, where I was attending my fourth-ever Religion News Association conference. I spoke on a panel about using social media as a tool for reporting, but more importantly, I visited two beautiful mosques in the city! So excited to sit down and write about the vibrant Muslim communities I met in the area.

Let’s jump into September’s stories. Buckle up, it’s another long one 😫


WaPo — The Trump administration’s own data shows that its travel ban truly was a Muslim ban: The number of immigrant visas issued to citizens of affected Muslim-majority countries fell from 1,419 in October 2017 to 69 in January 2018. And the disparities go even deeper.

The Economist — A new column from Erasmus succinctly traces some of the political shifts and fractures among U.S. Muslims that we’ve traversed in this newsletter. “[T]o say that American Muslims have lurched from one end of the ideological spectrum to another would be an over-simplification…Muslims are not so much confirmed leftists as nomads, in search of anyone who will listen to them, and the only respectful attention they are getting is on the left.”

HuffPost — Rowaida Abdelaziz’s reporting on a Syrian couple separated by the Muslim ban may have helped pressure the State Department into issuing a visa to Asmaa Khadem Al Arbaiin, who spent years stranded in Turkey while her husband worked in the U.S.

NYT — “When I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I knew it was possible that I would become a casualty of war. I just never imagined I would become a casualty of the war on terror without ever leaving American soil.”

WaPo — Today at the very spot where the plane piloted by terrorists crashed into the Pentagon, hundreds of U.S. military employees gather to pray daily. Meet Manal Ezzat, the Muslim engineer who rebuilt the Pentagon crash site as a multi-faith chapel.

NYT — Omar Aziz mourns the life that 9/11 stole from him 18 years ago.


  • September’s biggest story was a federal judge’s historic ruling against the U.S. government’s watchlist of “known or suspected terrorists” as unconstitutional. The extrajudicial database includes over 1 million people, about 4,600 of whom are U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The Council on American-Islamic Relations had filed a lawsuit on behalf of 23 Muslim U.S. citizens—including a 2-year-old and a young man who had to be hospitalized after he was detained for being on the list—who claim they were wrongly placed on the list, that the government’s standards for adding names is overly broad and mismanaged, and that the system lacks any process for legal challenge and redress. CAIR claims the watchlist is “effectively a Muslim registry created in the wake of the widespread Islamophobia of the early 2000s.”

  • What’s next for the terror watchlist? The federal judge instructed both CAIR and the government to propose a path forward. That might mean an amended watchlist with fewer people on it, or developing mechanisms to challenge your placement on the list. Importantly, Maha Hilal notes, the ruling only applies to U.S. citizens and non-citizens on U.S. soil—so what will become of non-Americans who have also been targeted?

  • Nearly three years after the Trump administration enacted a blanket ban on immigration from seven countries, last week’s House hearing focused on the controversial policy’s human cost.

  • But the hearing also highlighted the sense of utter confusion around the process for obtaining the case-by-case immigration waivers promised by the Trump administration.

  • At least a dozen Iranian students set to begin U.S. graduate programs in engineering and computer science say their visas were abruptly canceled and they were barred from their flights at the last second, though federal officials deny any policy changes took place. Some immigration advocates have referred to such incidents as part of a “backdoor Muslim ban.”

  • The U.S. Dept. of Education threatened to cut Title VI funds to the Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, charging that program was advancing “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam.” A coalition of 19 academic organizations issued a rebuttal, as did a group of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies graduate students.

  • In Washington, a first-of-its-kind law requires all colleges in the state to “reasonably accommodate” students for religious reasons, including holidays. Muslim students say such religious accommodations can be a game-changer.

  • War correspondent Bilal Abdul Kareem says he narrowly avoided five targeted U.S. airstrikes in Syria, after authorities mistook him for a militant due his contact with actual militants. Now, a U.S. judge dismissed Abdul Kareem’s lawsuit challenging his alleged placement on a federal “kill list,” with the White House invoking the “state secrets” privilege—even though he’s a U.S. citizen.

  • In San Diego, Muslims and other minority communities fear the city’s smart streetlights—rolled out as part of an environmental push without any discussion of locals’ many privacy concerns—could be used to surveil them.

  • Troy, Michigan is home to 73 places of worship. Not a single one is a mosque. A new lawsuit against the city by the U.S. Justice Department claims that’s because the city is violating local Muslims’ religious rights by denying them zoning approval.


  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ latest report documents more than 10,000 anti-Muslim bias incidents in the U.S. since 2014.

  • “Did you meet with terrorists?” Mohamed Khairullah, the longtime mayor of New Jersey’s Prospect Park, said he was held for three hours at JFK Airport when returning home from Turkey, questioned about whether he knew any terrorists and forced to hand over his phone for 12 days.

  • In 2017, a Muslim man rented a Kansas pavilion for a Malaysian Independence Day party. He sued the owners after they suspended his rental privileges and reported him to authorities for supposedly “desecrating” a U.S. flag with symbols of ISIS. Turns out…it was a Malaysian flag: 🇲🇾.

  • A Muslim woman is suing Virginia company for mocking her religion during a job interview and denied her employment because she asked for two five-minute prayer breaks during the work day.

  • Muslim students in the U.S. are four times more likely to report being bullied at school compared to the general student population. Just take Ihab, a 15-year-old boy in Maryland. Every day at school, his classmates called him a suicide bomber and ISIS. They physically assaulted him and threatened to kill him. The harassment was so severe that the teen is seeing a mental health professional. But the school denies that any bullying took place.

  • Two Muslim men say American Airlines canceled their flight home to Dallas because crew “didn't feel comfortable” flying with them.

  • A new report finds that Muslims in Philadelphia face more housing disadvantages than non-Muslims.

  • And now in prisoners’ rights: Muslim inmates are suing L.A. police for allegedly denying them access to religious services and meals even after having to answer questions proving their faith. The Alaska Department of Corrections settled another lawsuit by agreeing to provide Muslim inmates with appropriate meals at the appropriate times during Ramadan and allowing them to participate in religious services. And Virginia jail ended its so-called “God Pod” program after a lawsuit alleged it provided favorable treatment to Christians and discriminated against Muslims.

  • On the anniversary of 9/11, Muslim activists in D.C. unveiled an illustrated timeline of how the U.S-led "war on terror" has affected Muslim communities worldwide. Creator Maha Hilal told me the timeline highlights the “underlying Islamophobia” linking nearly two decades of torture, immigration crackdowns, surveillance overreaches and more.


  • In Nashville, Nigerian American accountant Zulfat Suara just became Tennessee’s first Muslim elected official. She’s faced anti-Muslim hostility online and locally during her run, though her campaign focused on fiscal issues. "To politicize my religious identity is simply un-American," Suara told local media.

  • The star of the Islamic Society of North America’s first-ever presidential forum was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s long worked to reach out to Muslim communities in his campaign. The only other forum attendee, Sec. Julian Castro, received a much more muted response.

  • Why do many Muslims treat Bernie like a rock star? The L.A. Times’ Jaweed Kaleem examined Muslim support for the septuagenarian Democratic socialist senator.

  • From the ISNA forum to the Muslim Caucus event in D.C., candidates have been cautious when it comes to openly courting Muslim voters. Such hollow politics hail from an earlier era, and may cost the left dearly, The New Republic notes.

  • However, HuffPost’s Rowaida Abdelaziz has noted a growing trend of Democratic candidates visiting mosques. Beto O’Rourke joined the ranks of these candidates this month when he visited a mosque in New Hampshire and heard their concerns about anti-Muslim hate. Back in 2016, Bloomberg wrote about how the same congregation has struggled for about two decades to build a place of worship.

  • A partnership between the U.S. Census Bureau and the Council on American-Islamic Relations ended days after it was announced, following a backlash from conservative media.

  • After years of accusations of anti-Semitism against co-chair Linda Sarsour, the Women’s March replaced Sarsour and two of its other original leaders with a diverse new board of 16 women. One of those women was Zahra Billoo, the civil rights attorney who directs of CAIR’s Bay area chapter and has been involved with the Women’s March since its early days.

  • Billoo’s also known for her work as an outspoken advocate of Palestine. Backlash to her past tweets criticizing Israel led to one organization rescinding an award from her previously. So perhaps unsurprisingly, Billoo was voted out of the Women’s March board within 48 hours of the news that she had joined it.

  • Turns out most of Minnesota’s aggressively negative news about Muslims is produced by a group of local donors, policy wonks and strategists tied to the state’s most powerful Republican organizations.

  • Muslim advocacy organizations are pushing hard for lawmakers across the country to pressure Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ease the growing conflict in Kashmir, where families are in their 56th day of a communications blackout and a partial lockdown.


  • Baltimore’s historic Masjid Al Haqq just kicked off a series of local ‘Day of Dignity’ service events around the country, created by Islamic Relief USA to bring free health screenings, hot meals, haircuts, winter coats and hygiene kits to locals in need.

  • See Something Say Something spoke to teacher Irade Kashgary, co-founder of a Uighur cultural and linguistic after-school program for Virginia youth, about what it’s like teaching the Uighur language in America.

  • For Muslims wrestling with substance abuse, it’s often a silent struggle. But in Minnesota, a number of recent deaths in the Somali community have led to an effort to normalize addiction treatment and provide culturally competent counseling.

  • Some Americans might want Middle Eastern immigrants to “go home.” But in Patterson, New Jersey, they’ve created a sense of optimism, helping renew a city beleaguered by crime and corruption, and long in decline. 

  • Tours through Harlem and Wall Street, along with a new exhibition in Brooklyn, teach New Yorkers about the city’s all-but-forgotten Muslim history.

  • Teen Yemeni girls in Detroit are getting married. Why? It's complicated.

  • Meet Isra Hirsi. Sure, she’s Rep. Ilhan Omar’s teen daughter. But she’s also leading the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, the environmental activism movement that’s galvanized a generation to tackle climate change with a heightened sense of urgency.

  • Najah Bazzy began by helping Detroit's impoverished community in her house. Now, her nonprofit Zaman International has reached 250,000 people.


  • “[T]hey are subject to a system that immediately categorizes them from the minute they walk into the door.” Vanessa Taylor says conversations around the Hyde Amendment must consider the unique experiences of black Muslims seeking reproductive healthcare access.

  • Democratic presidential candidates now must lead the conversation on the Muslim ban by clarifying if they oppose the Muslim ban as a national security measure, Rozina Ali says.

  • “American liberal capitalism has a unique ability to individualize and materialize all structures of belief that claim to have objective transcendent meaning,” including the practice of Islam, The American Conservative argues. For more on how the emerging alliance between U.S. Muslims and leftists is shaping Islam, read Mustafa Akyol’s essay “The Creeping Liberalism in American Islam,” Eboo Patel’s book “Out of Many Faiths,” this collection of essays by Muftah, and this review by Shadi Hamid.

  • Here’s another response to Al Jazeera’s ongoing chain of op-eds about the state of the American Muslim ummah, this time from Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi: “When they say ‘our community’ who exactly is the member of this community?” 


  • “A lot of us Muslims are sick and tired of going to rallies and protests…But if you can make somebody laugh, you’re the most powerful person in the room.” Three Muslim women comedians from Chicago discuss using stand-up as a way to deliver truth.

  • The NYT named Nijla Mu’min’s coming-of-age film “Jinn” as Critic’s Pick, saying it “delivered with a refreshing perspective on generational and cultural clashes.”


I have a confession: I’m really, really bad at listening to podcasts. I’ve only ever listened to more than one episode of a handful of podcasts. But I recently started listening to American Submitter, a small indie podcast started about three years ago by former Kominas band member Imran Ali Malik. Here’s a recent review of it:

“Within the genre of podcasts focusing on Muslim Americans and society, American Submitter is an absolute anomaly. The combination of intentional and aspirational representation, the lived experiences of Malik and his guests, and dynamic storytelling that switches between first and third-person narration create a show that unfolds in real time.” Read more.


I’m going to be in Los Angeles and Davis, California for a few days this month. Ping me if you’re in the area, or know of someone I should meet or something I should see.

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

- Aysha

Hamid Hayat goes free, CVE in Boston, remembering Partition

Are 2020 candidates ignoring Muslims? Or are they tweeting about them too much?

Salaam, friends!

Another month, another slew of news articles about Muslims. Here are the most interesting links, for your viewing pleasure.

After I hit send, I’m going to get back to prepping a piece on Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro participating in tonight’s ISNA presidential forum. I’ll be watching the livestream here in about an hour—if you’ve got nothing else to do tonight, grab some popcorn and maybe we can DM about it.


HuffPost — Rowaida Abdelaziz spoke to over 30 Muslim women across the country about their experiences wearing a burkini swimsuit in public, uncovering a pattern: Muslim women are still fighting for their right to swim. Often they are confronted in public, humiliated and abused.

The Intercept — For years, reporters questioned the terror prosecution of Hamid Hayat, charged with attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Now he's been freed after 14 years, becoming the first international terrorism defendant in the post-9/11 era to have his conviction fully overturned. (Don’t miss reading about Hayat’s emotional Eid celebration, or this 2006 piece that outlines some of the case details)

RNS — Politicians on the left are pushing to tackle white supremacist hate by expanding the federal Countering Violent Extremism initiative. But it's worth it to look at how CVE has already divided Muslim communities across the U.S.—including in Boston, where a half-million-dollar police mentorship program has targeted local Somali Muslim youth for the past two years.

Gothamist — In 2017, the FBI proposed a deal to an Uzbek immigrant who overstayed his tourist visa: He could stay in the U.S., but only if he spied on New York City mosques. Two years later, the reluctant informant tries to break up with the FBI.

Next City — “We can literally disrupt the mortgage system.” Minneapolis’ Somali Muslim community has built a culturally appropriate, non-predatory mortgage option so they can bypass banks and interest when buying homes.

RNS — This month marks the 72nd anniversary of the Partition of India. Harmeet Kamboj explores how South Asian Americans today are reckoning with the painful legacy of the largest human migration in history—from the shared fight against the racialization of Muslim identity, to the struggle to overcome our own religious prejudice and build a cohesive South Asian identity.


  • In Southern California, Uighurs say there is not one among them who has not had a friend or family member “disappeared” by Chinese police. Sarah Parvini reports for the L.A. Times.

  • A black Muslim woman accused the NYPD of using excessive force and violating her religious freedom when officers ignored her requests to be searched by a female officer—resulting, eventually, in a neck fracture. Arun Venugopal reports for Gothamist.

  • Here’s how far-right groups demonized the International Institute for Islamic Thought and other Muslim civil organization as fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • A Subway worker in Minnesota yelled “go back to your country” at a Muslim customer because, as he explains, “I get angry when I am thirsty.”

  • A Muslim man told a Starbucks employee in Philadelphia that his name was Aziz. She wrote “ISIS” on his cup.

  • A 12-year-old Muslim girl was forced to remove her hijab by Air Canada while traveling with her teammates on the U.S. National Squash team.


  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sec. Julian Castro will be at tonight’s presidential forum at the Islamic Society of North America’s conference, the largest annual gathering of Muslims in the country. But the vast majority of 2020 contenders are skipping the forum. “If Democrats continue to ignore the Muslim vote, they could find that post-Trump, the GOP might make inroads in our community,” Dean Obeidallah writes.

  • “If they’re serious about courting the Muslim vote, they have to show up,” the forum’s moderator told Politico. A previous piece from Politico also goes into further detail about why Muslim activists think their concerns are getting short shrift in the Democratic primary.

  • It looks like more presidential candidates are visiting mosques than ever before, Rowaida Abdelaziz writes, though it’s a pretty low bar to cross.

  • A new tweet analysis by political scientist Ryan Burge shows that 2020 Democratic candidates are failing to reach out to Christian voters on social media, instead occasionally tweeting about Muslims or about religion in vague and inclusive terms. “That could mean that Democratic candidates want to use Trump’s caustic language around Islam as an opportunity to discuss their belief in religious freedom for all religious minorities, many of which are strong supporters of the Democratic Party,” Burge wrote.

  • New research shows that even implicitly framing Muslim and American identities as separate may reduce Muslim Americans’ willingness to engage in politics. (Shocking!)

  • Muslim voters could be key to a blue Michigan in 2020—if Democrats reach out. The Democratic National Convention’s Muslim Listening Tour is the first step.

  • When Rep. Ilhan Omar is accused of anti-Semitism, it’s major headline news for weeks. When a Republican official smears Muslims by saying they have “have great animosity” toward Jews, there’s silence, Mehdi Hasan observes at The Intercept.


  • A number of Canadian Muslims have been turned away at the Canada-U.S. border. Those denied entry include a prominent Toronto imam who serves as a police chaplain.

  • A judge has ordered a well-known Texas imam to pay $2.55 million to a Muslim woman who says he groomed her for sex after counseling her when she was in her teens. For background, read Hannah Allam’s incredible coverage of the case from last year.

  • When a Muslim woman in Illinois went to renew her driver’s license, which featured a photo of her wearing hijab, she was asked to sign a form saying that her license would be canceled if the DMV received evidence that she does not wear her hijab in public. Nausheen Hussain reports on the woman’s lawsuit for the Chicago Tribune.


  • Is it OK to host Eid al-Adha if you're not a practicing Muslim? Malaka Gharib writes about her first time celebrating Eid and her complicated relationship with Islam, coming from a mixed family.

  • “There’s not a handbook for them to follow on how to raise Muslim kids in America." Generations of a Pasadena, California, family grapple with what it means to be a Muslim in the U.S.

  • Nushmia Khan is using art to intensify Muslim couples’ attention on their marriage contracts. (I also wrote about her project, Nikahnama, earlier this year.)

  • Bobby Rogers’ art finds beauty and creativity in unseen communities, from black Muslims to Minneapolis gang members to police brutality protesters.

  • Through the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, Muslim and Jewish women around the country are building bridges through social action.


  • Leave Muslims out of it. Let’s discuss white violence on its own terms, Maha Hilal writes.

  • The Middle East Eye’s Azad Essa writes that Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s fiercely contested legacy “is the very ground on which the future of Western Islam is being decided.”

  • From Sheikh Hamza Yusuf to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, America’s leading Muslim figures and organizations have all compromised their moral integrity and political courage, Ali al-Arian writes in a much-talked-about Al Jazeera op-ed. (Imam Zaid Shakir, scholar Sherman Jackson and CAIR’s Abbas Berzegar all issued responses to the controversial piece above, with the last of the bunch arguing that U.S. Muslims are in fact on the frontlines of ‘the resistance.’)

  • As soon as next year, researchers say, summer days in Mecca could exceed the “extreme danger” heat-stress threshold. With hajj under threat, Muslims need to mobilize against climate change in a major way, Ramona Aly writes.

  • Rep. Omar's tremendous impact on U.S. political discourse stands as a testament to the enduring legacies of black American Islam, Sylvia Chan-Malik writes.

  • Rep. Omar is changing the way Americans talk about Israel. And in banning her from visiting the country, Israel has only highlighted her effectiveness as “the most formidable foe Israel has faced in U.S. politics—ever,” Azad Essa writes.


  • In Chicago, the Muslim Writers Collective is pushing boundaries while building empathy. 

  • “Once Upon an Eid” is a joyful collection of short stories by and about Muslims.

  • Kamala Khan is getting her own Ms. Marvel series on Disney+.


Facing Abuse in Community Environments is a Muslim women-led organization in Texas aiming to independent institution for reporting, investigating and resolving claims of abuse and neglect at the hands of Muslim leaders and Islamic institutions. This includes working towards leadership accountability in claims of sexual, physical, financial and spiritual abuse.

Launched in 2017 by activist Alia Salem and lawyer Huma Yasin, the team took up the case of a young woman who claimed that she had been sexually groomed and exploited by Imam Zia Ul-Haq Sheikh of Irving, Texas. Through a meticulous, year-long investigation and months of advocacy, they helped the young woman win a landmark judgment against the imam. Read more.


Over the next few months, I’m hunting for story ideas on ways that Muslims are gathering and building faith-based communities outside the mosque. And do you know of any interesting stories involving Muslims in L.A., Vegas or Davis, California?

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

- Aysha

Muslim Caucus, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Muslim health care

Tacko, Mahershala and more.

Salaam, all! Keeping this one short as I’m about to hop on a plane. In fact, I’m also skipping my usual editing process in order to send this to you before the month closes, so I apologize in advance for any misspellings and half-finished sentences.

But before I go, I do want to note that this edition is pretty heavy with stories related to politics, discrimination and protests. If you’re a bit sick of that, as I admittedly am, then feel free to skip right along to the next thing in your inbox. I promise I won’t take offense. 💛


HuffPost – Ahead of last week’s Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy conference, Rowaida Abdelaziz looked at how the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are ignoring Muslim voters. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was the only presidential candidate to appear in person at the event, billed as the first national gathering of Muslim Americans in politics.

NPR – A mosque in the United States was built on a North Dakota prairie in the 1920s. Today the descendants of those families share that history with new American Muslims, Leila Fadel reports.

Religion & Politics – Once a fringe argument, the idea that Islam is not actually a religion, and therefore doesn’t qualify for religious liberty protections, has rapidly gained salience in mainstream public discourse. I wrote about that idea and lawyer Asma Uddin’s new book on the topic.


  • Elijah Al-Amin was about to turn 18. Then a white man killed him because the boy was playing rap music.

  • In Minnesota, a group of white residents driven by open xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment are pressuring their city to stop accepting Somali refugees: “These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way. These people are very visible.” (Personally I do think this story could have stood to give some more space to local refugees and to examining America’s gutted refugee program.)

  • A man accused of sending a Twitter threat to lynch a Muslim candidate for Virginia state senate has now been charged with a felony.

  • The U.S. may not have a burkini ban, but many Muslim women say they’re criticized or denied admittance to local pools because of their modest swimwear. Rowaida Abdelaziz spoke to the women who are successfully pushing back.

  • How did a man who murdered three Muslims receive a presumption of racial innocence? Mother Jones looks at how police, media commentators and more tried to complicate the narrative of the Chapel Hill murder with “false conditionals.”

  • Two new investigations, one from a group of lawyers and another from reporters at Reveal, have identified thousands of Facebook posts and comments by current and former police officers that display racist and Islamophobic hate.


  • Muslim organizations predict that anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks will likely intensify as Trump and the GOP leverage smear campaigns and bigotry as a 2020 election strategy, Rowaida Abdelaziz reports. Still, the Muslim women predominantly being targeted say they won’t back down.

  • Nashville council candidate Zulfat Suara—who might become the city's first Muslim elected official—didn't make her faith part of her platform because she values church-state separation. But an online hate campaign sees her candidacy as an "infiltration."

  • NBA player Enes Kanter says the Islamic Center of Long Island canceled his free basketball camp after threats by the Turkish Consulate in New York City. Kanter is a vocal critic of Turkish leader Erdoğan and has been a frequent target of the regime.

  • The Daily Beast traces how the conspiracy theory that Rep. Omar ‘married her brother’ went from an anonymous forum post to the White House.

  • Muslim activists are unimpressed by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf’s willingness to join the State Department’s controversial new Commission on Unalienable Rights. The most well-known Muslim leader in the West and co-founder of Zaytuna College, Yusuf appears “quite comfortable rubber-stamping the violent actions of oppressive governments,” Maha Hilal notes. Human rights activists and other religious leaders are also calling for the commission to be dismantled.

  • As more Muslims run for office in Illinois and around the country, Muslim activists are pushing youth ‘to take center stage’ in an era of immigration raids and racist tweets, Nausheen Husain reports.


  • What does the idea that Islam isn’t a religion mean for the future of religious freedom? Kelsey Dallas reports.

  • A comprehensive new report finds that there are a disproportionately high number of Muslims in state prisons (the vast majority of which converted while in prison) and notes the inconsistent and burdensome policies around religious accommodations for these prisoners. New research also finds that “Muslim-perceived” defendants tend to receive harsher charges, longer prison sentences, and less generous plea deals than non-Muslim counterparts.

  • Trump’s travel ban exempted Iranians seeking student and exchange-visitor visas, but it turns out many of those applicants have been blocked as well.

  • For three years, this husband has fought to be with his wife. But the Muslim ban keeps the Syrian couple apart, Rowaida Abdelaziz reports.

  • These Somali Muslim women are leading the labor activism around Amazon in the U.S.

  • This Palestinian activist got swept up in the war on terror. Decades later, ICE tried to secretly deport him to Israel on Eid al-Fitr, per a new report.

  • Through Karamah, these Muslim women lawyers have made it their life’s goal to empower women by fighting for human rights. (I’ll note that this article bizarrely refers to a mosque as “the most unlikely of places” for female empowerment 🤔.)


  • Some 70 Muslim-led free clinics across the U.S. serve more than 50,000 patients – nearly half of which are non-Muslim annually, and virtually all are low-income and uninsured or underinsured.

  • A Muslim doctor explains why he left his leadership position at a successful hospital to practice medicine in a rural, underserved area in small-town, white America.

  • Six years ago at the University of Texas at Dallas, a group of Muslim men formed Alpha Lamda Mu, one of the country’s “Muslim-interest” fraternities, Amina Khan writes.

  • “Not many people know about Uighur in this area,” says Adila Sadir, co-owner of the only Uighur restaurant in Massachusetts. “We want to present our culture and our cuisine here.” Sadir’s father was detained in China’s expansive network of detention camps last June.

  • Minneapolis just got its first Muslim-focused addiction treatment center, and a new initiative to boost the ranks of certified Muslim chaplains.

  • “Moving out on my own was among one of the most disgraceful things I could’ve done as a daughter of Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant parents,” Jennifer Chowdhury reflects.

  • Highlighting the rich legacy of South Asian organizing in America, Iman Sultan explores the activists and organizers emerging in a new leftist movement.

  • Trailblazing journalist Malika Bilal discusses being a black Muslim woman on camera and in the newsroom.


  • Understanding the Muslim ban requires grappling with how the politics of religion is embedded in U.S. political and legal institutions, Elizabeth Hurd says.

  • “If the Democratic candidates hope to actually achieve the vision that many of them are outlining—of a more equal, equitable and just United States—then they need to address anti-Muslim racism head-on,” attorney Reem Subei writes.

  • “Rather than perpetuating Islamophobia, presidential candidates need to recognize Muslim Americans as an essential part of American society and recognize their importance in the political sphere,” Ghazala Salam writes.

  • “The Trump administration has claimed that the waiver process ensures that the ban is flexibly and humanely applied,” researchers from the Brennan Center for Justice note. “But this is sophistry.”


  • The hit show Homeland is ending soon, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.

  • Two-time Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali was just cast as the new Blade— and he’s got a guest spot on season two of Hulu’s Ramy.

  • “We want Tacko!” In less than two weeks, this Senegalese Muslim went from an undrafted rookie to the most beloved player in the NBA.

  • “I think lives are quite literally at stake here,” actor Riz Ahmed said of nuanced Muslim representation onscreen. Ahmed’s appearance at a Star Wars convention was recently canceled because federal agents stopped him from boarding his flight.

  • Hasan Minhaj discusses deciding that he didn’t want to be another Indian Seth Myers.


The After Malcolm Digital Archive, created through the George Mason University's Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, documents African American Muslim contributions to the struggle for justice in the U.S. It digitizes original documents and oral histories that can be used for scholarly research and public education.


Over the next few months, I’m hunting for story ideas on ways that Muslims are gathering and building faith-based communities outside the mosque. And do you know of any interesting stories involving Muslims in L.A. or Vegas?

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

- Aysha

Our Three Winners, social media visa, Blue Tin Production

“What does it do to us spiritually if our hijabs are made in a sweatshop?”

Salaam, all! Jummah mubarak, shabbat shalom, and TGIF!

Hope you guys are doing well. I’m preparing to head out to Provo, Utah, next week, where I’ll be speaking on a panel at the BYU Religious Freedom Annual Review. Message me if you’ll be there, too.

It seems like you all prefer the updated format, so we’ll roll with that for now. Let’s jump right in.


WaPo — "We live at the cusp of both unprecedented Muslim visibility and heightened anti-Muslim racism,” community organizer Hoda Katebi writes. “If we are not careful, these new modes of representation may contribute to the rise of anti-Muslim racism, rather than combat it."

TIME — After Beijing’s fierce crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square decades ago, many Chinese students studying in the U.S. feared returning home. But the U.S. moved to protect them. Now, 30 years later, Uighurs students are asking the U.S. to do the same for them.

NYT — "You can breathe in fresh air. You can feel the respect for another life.” Priya Krishna takes us to the small, family-owned Hira Halal Meat, one of the Houston area's only halal slaughterhouses, to learn about humane alternatives to conventional meat producers.


  • This week, a man was sentenced to three back-to-back life terms in prison for the 2015 murders of three young Muslim students in North Carolina. The students, Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha, are popularly known as Our Three Winners among U.S. Muslims.

  • Authorities initially framed the triple murder of Our Three Winners as a parking dispute, despite the shooter’s anti-Muslim social media posts. And while records show that none of the three Muslims had parked in the shooter’s assigned spot (and newly-public cellphone video of the shooting confirmed that the students showed no belligerence), media ran with that narrative even this week. Just see the NYTimes’ headline and lede for its report, “He Killed 3 Muslim Students. But Did He Commit a Hate Crime?” Local police have now also apologized for characterizing the crime as a parking dispute, saying the shooter had a “hateful heart.”

  • Muslim comedian and radio host Dean Obeidallah just won a $4.1 million ruling against neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, which falsely accused him of masterminding the Manchester bombing. “If I end up collecting any money…I'm going to donate it to organizations that fight hate and bigotry, the very groups these Nazis despise,” Obeidallah wrote.

  • A Muslim woman was robbed, beaten and had her hijab pulled off by a group of young people last month. When local authorities failed to properly investigate, she dug up the surveillance footage herself. “I told myself I wasn’t going to be one of those cases that got abandoned,” she told HuffPost.

  • Imam Omar Suleiman and the Yaqeen Research Institute are taking on Google to stop the search engine from spreading anti-Muslim propaganda, Rowaida Abdelaziz reports.

  • Recycled claims about Muslims wanting to ban dogs in public keep going viral online in the U.S. and Canada. Here’s why.

  • Days after the New Zealand mosque shooting, Muslims launched a self-funded private patrol service to protect mosques and Islamic schools in New York. The additional security has proved controversial.

  • A Muslim school board candidate in Virginia was pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop. She called it police brutality; police say she resisted arrest.


  • Despite Trump’s Guantánamo threats during his campaign, Americans who joined ISIS are quietly returning home through court trials. Some have even be released or resettled.

  • She came to America from a refugee camp in East Africa. Now she's at the forefront of a new wave of U.S. politicians challenging Donald Trump. The Middle East Eye traces the rise of Rep. Ilhan Omar.

  • A Tennessee mayoral candidate once wrote an op-ed saying Islam “poses an absolute danger to us and our children.” Now, she’s attempting to make amends by visiting a local mosque—and her fans aren’t having it.

  • Two Yemeni American women organizers just founded a political firm to boost candidates committed to the issues most important to Arab Americans.


  • How did a new immigrant with a spouse visa end up imprisoned and separated from his wife, a U.S. citizen, and his two daughters—one of whom was born while he was in jail? Hannan Adely reports on how the Muslim ban is hurting one Somali immigrant family.

  • Nearly all visa applicants hoping to travel or immigrate to the U.S. are now required to list five years’ worth of social media identities in their applications. Civil rights and legal advocates told me the policy will leave Muslim communities, both in the U.S. and abroad, particularly vulnerable. Read more on the policy’s impact in The Atlantic.

  • In Minnesota, Muslim workers at a Jennie-O Turkey processing plant have gone on strike over restrictions on prayer times and other claims of racist and anti-Muslim discrimination.


  • “Is your career worth a spot in hell?” Many Muslims believe is interest is forbidden in Islam. Tasmiha Khan reports on the Muslims struggling to afford higher education while trying to abstain from interest-bearing student loans.

  • American Muslims are becoming more accepting of homosexuality in society. Their mosques are another story. CNN’s Dan Burke looks at the story behind a survey that found that 0% of American Muslims identified as lesbian or gay.

  • “You are the next generation of Muslims to be able to show that Islamic values and American values are completely compatible.” At a Muslim Sunday school in Connecticut, young Muslims are learning to be ambassadors for their faith.

  • After playing cricket at night for years in parking lots during Ramadan, carrying on a tradition from the motherland, L.A.’s South Asian Muslims just organized their first cricket tournament at a local ballpark this Ramadan.

  • Ramadan is rife with majesty and spiritual cleansing, yet requires facing one's body. How does one navigate Ramadan with a history of body dysmorphia? Fariha Róisín writes (paywall).

  • “Do not make your stomach a graveyard of animals.” For the Guardian, Remona Aly looks at how vegan Muslims experience Ramadan and Eid. Read more about Muslims and vegetarianism at Religion News Service.

  • During Ramadan in Detroit, Bangladeshi restaurants assemble and sell thousands of iftar boxes filled with things like biryani and fried eggplant.

  • “As opposed to holidays centered around indulgence, Ramadan strips you down and humbles you,” writes comedian Ahamed Weinberg, who was raised Muslim by an ex-Catholic and a former Jew who found Sufism.

  • In Houston, Muslim convert and former hip-hop artist becomes a voice for Islam.

  • This Ramadan, Muslim students navigated the holy month on campuses that accommodate them with iftars and prayer rooms.


  • We can learn a lot about the nature of the modern attacks on Muslims by examining previous attacks on Mormons, Catholics and other religious minorities in America, “Sacred Liberty” author Steven Waldman writes.

  • While bans on hijabs and niqabs are typically seen as infringements on religious freedom, they also implicate international women’s rights, Engy Abdelkader writes at Sojourners.

  • Advocates of facial recognition technology could use a lesson on America’s long history of politicized and racially-biased state surveillance, says Veena Dubal, a law professor who’s spent years advocating for Muslims’ civil rights post-9/11.

  • From crusaders to colonialists to cartoonists: TRT explores Islamophobia in the Western world, where Muslim minorities are feeling the pinch of prejudice.


  • With her podcast “Tell Them, I Am,” host and producer Misha Euceph interviewed 22 Muslims about the defining moments of their lives. Here’s why.

  • Children’s books with Muslim characters can help open minds and provide kids with role models that have stories like theirs, Nesima Aberra writes.

  • With her Women's Running magazine cover, Rahaf Khatib just became the first hijabi runner featured on the cover of a fitness, nutrition & lifestyle mag in the U.S.

  • Queer Muslims are rare on TV. Writer-actor Fawzia Mirza wants to change that.

  • Pop culture got Islam wrong for years. “Ramy” made getting it right look easy, Zainab Mudallal writes.

  • In “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” actress Zoha Rahman plays Peter Parker's hijab-wearing Muslim friend.

  • Actor Zeeko Zaki talks about his role in crime procedural “FBI”: “It was the first Arab American Muslim playing an Arab American Muslim as the hero on network.”


Chicago-based activist Hoda Katebi has a bone to pick with her fellow American Muslims. Why don’t they seem to care about the spiritual implications of wearing clothes produced through the exploitation of predominantly-Muslim women?

“What does it do to us spiritually if our hijabs are made in a sweatshop?” she asked me when I met her in her studio. “Muslims care so deeply that our food is halal, that our investments are halal. And I don’t think anyone asked that question about our clothes.”

With Blue Tin Production, her new refugee-run clothing manufacturing co-op named after the blue cookie tins many immigrant women use to store sewing supplies, Katebi says she hopes U.S.-based Muslim fashion designers will invest in their own morality. Read more.


Over the next few months, I’m hunting for story ideas on ways that Muslims are gathering and building faith-based communities outside the mosque. And do you know of any interesting stories involving Muslims in L.A., Amsterdam or Vegas?

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

- Aysha

Remembering Nabra, New Haven mosque, census 2020

A belated Ramadan mubarak to all.

Salaam, guys!

Hope this Ramadan’s final and holiest ashra—or 10-day period—finds you all well. Now that we’re a year and 500+ subscribers into this newsletter, I figured I’d try a slightly different format this month. It made production a bit easier, as I waded through nearly 200 links (!!!) to put this hefty edition together, but I’d love to hear your feedback. What is and isn’t working for you? Would you prefer I just send a few must-read stories at more frequent intervals? Do you want more commentary or less?

We’ve got a lot of stories to get to, so let’s jump right in with the cream of the crop.


Texas Monthly — A Pakistani foreign exchange student. An evangelical girl from Texas. A school shooting. On the anniversary of the deadly attack in Santa Fe, a heartbreaking look at a beautiful friendship and a young life that ended too early.

Aeon — Muslims came to America more than a century before Protestants, and in great numbers. How was their history forgotten?

NYT — Many Muslim women facing domestic violence are reluctant to use public services due to Muslim and immigrant communities’ tenuous relationship with law enforcement. In Brooklyn, the Muslim-managed Asiyah Women’s Shelter is helping fill the gap.

WAMU — Two years after Nabra Hassanen’s brutal murder during Ramadan, young Muslims in Northern Virginia are still coping with “so many layers of survivor’s guilt, of blaming, of trauma.”

The Juggernaut — After Mamnun Ahmed survived the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, his parents, Bangladeshi immigrants in Connecticut, first felt relief, and then paranoia. What if the shooter was Muslim?


  • Fariha Roisin reflects on the importance of deprivation and confronting one's own mortality during Ramadan. “In ritual, we focus not on the lack, but the abundance of the world, and how lucky we are to live in this time, in this space, to honor its transience, and make use of the vital years that we are here.”

  • The Houston Chronicle looks at what the holy month of fasting is like for kids experiencing one of their first Ramadans.

  • When Muslims can’t fast during Ramadan for health reasons, they find other means of connection, Shabnaj Chowdhury writes. And at the Chicago Tribune, Nausheen Husain looks at how disabled Muslims participate in Ramadan rituals.

  • Black Muslims in the Americas have a long history of seeing Ramadan as a time to push for justice and liberation, Vanessa Taylor writes.

  • After an arson attack left Connecticut’s Diyanet Mosque of New Haven uninhabitable, hundreds came out to show their solidarity. But local Muslims are struggling to return to normalcy this Ramadan. “Normally we have 200 people every night at our iftars,” a teacher mosque told RNS. “Our people did not come today.”

  • Mosques’ moves to heighten security for Ramadan—armed guards, training drills, cameras—are provoking disagreement over how to collaborate with law enforcement, with whom Muslims have a historically tense relationship. “This idea that police equals protection is something that we should interrogate,” one Muslim told Al Jazeera.


  • “A mosque was intentionally set on fire in the U.S. Why didn’t anyone hear about it?” Imam Omar Suleiman asks in WaPo.

  • An Ohio Muslim family put up festive lights celebrating Ramadan outside their house. The same night, someone shot at their home.

  • CAIR has lodged more than 500 potentially anti-Muslim incidents this year already.

  • Reports of law enforcement removing incarcerated black Muslim womens’ hijabs date back at least 14 years. But the violation of their religious rights goes deeper than policy, Vanessa Taylor writes. Related: A black Muslim woman claims the Georgia Department of Corrections won’t let her wear a hijab—to her work as a corrections officer.

  • In at least two Virginia state prisons, Muslim inmates are being deprived of timely meals during Ramadan, civil rights advocates report. Related: An ‘Overlooked’ NYT obituary for Martin Sostre, who successfully sued for the right to practice Islam while incarcerated.

  • A Muslim man says he was fired from UnitedHealth Group after a decade of work when he spoke up about his new boss harassing him for his faith, Rowaida Abdelaziz reports. Muslim employees in Detroit also say they increasingly face bias in the workplace, Niraj Warikoo reports.

  • A group of Somali women working for Amazon near Minneapolis have accused the company of discriminating against Muslim workers and of retaliating against them for protesting work conditions.

  • After a Muslim standup comedian joked at a show that "it only takes one of us," an audience member called the police.


  • Muslim voter turnout in four battleground states jumped 25 percentage points from the 2014 to the 2018 midterm elections, per a new report from Emgage.

  • After their efforts to oust a Texas Muslim elected to county party vice-chair divided their party, the GOP fights to keep The Lone Star State red.

  • At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crimes and white nationalism last month, Mohammad Abu-Salha—a Muslim father who testified about the killings of his daughters in the 2015 Chapel Hill shootings—was asked to defend his faith from questions by politicians about whether Islam taught hate and anti-Semitism. Muslim activists say the hearing’s framing proved “the unwillingness or inability to understand the word terrorism as not inherently connected to Muslims.”

  • For American Muslims in the public eye, what Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing—the threats, outsized scrutiny and unending demands to prove one’s patriotism—are all too familiar, Leila Fadel reports. (Read more on the “Muslim Inquisition” at The Guardian.) Muslim constituents say the unchecked hate Omar faces is not just discouraging, but a “calculated ploy” to divide the Democratic party and incite hatred.

  • And while that hate is part of a long pattern of anti-Muslim prejudice on the right, it also highlights the left’s complicity. And Muslim voters say they’ll remember which Democrats had Omar’s back, Rowaida Abdelaziz reports.

  • Just like last year, Trump snubbed U.S. Muslim leaders by only inviting diplomats from Muslim-majority countries to the annual White House iftar. Not to worry, though, because Reps. Omar, Rashida Tlaib and André Carson hosted their own much-talked about iftar on Capitol Hill. Despite what some media reports suggested, it wasn’t the first iftar on the Hill. It was the first one organized by three Muslim members of Congress, and the first attended by party leaders.

  • Omar and Tlaib, who just became the first Muslim woman to preside over House floor, challenge the trope of modest Muslim women, Nora Boustany writes at WaPo.


  • For the third time, a federal judge has blocked an Israel boycott ban, this time in Texas, on First Amendment grounds.

  • The Trump administration says it’s planning to designate the Muslim Brotherhood political movement a foreign terrorist organization. Experts say doing so would be a diplomacy disaster that fuels extremism—but domestically, it would also lead to a crackdown on U.S. Muslim civic groups, and could, in effect, be a “backdoor Muslim registry.”

  • A new lawsuit, involving a Muslim prisoner in Alabama seeking access to an imam in the execution chamber, could resolve conflict over the religious freedom rights of death row inmates after two seemingly contradictory Supreme Court rulings.

  • A new report shows how Countering Violent Extremism programming disproportionately targets Illinois’ Muslim and Arab youth.

  • After a hearing in April, a federal judge says he will soon decide on the constitutionality of the government’s terrorist watchlist.

  • The Trump administration has renewed fear and distrust of government questions, meaning Muslim immigrants now face a 2020 census undercount. A group of Muslims and Japanese American activists, including survivors of WWII-era internment, have united to challenge a proposed citizenship question in the census.


  • Halima Aden just became the first model to wear a hijab and burkini for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. But Muslims aren’t all happy about this: “Does our form of modest dress lose its power and purpose as it becomes more of a marketing tool?” Alia Salem asks. One professor called the photoshoot a Rorschach test that shows Americans’ own politics in their interpretations of the images.

  • Ramy, the semi-autobiographical TV series by comedian Ramy Youssef, has gotten rave reviews, but it’s also got Muslim folks seriously torn. I haven’t seen the show myself, but I love Ramy’s standup and I’m on board with his aims of creating a show that doesn’t use religion as a punchline or as a marketing ploy, a show that is honest about his adherence to and struggles with Islam. “The difference between ‘Ramy’ and ‘The Big Sick’ is that [Kumail] Nanjiani spent much of that story trying to run away from his faith, whereas Youssef fully welcomes religious aspects of Islam,” The New York Times notes. Here’s a sampling of responses from critics: The Atlantic said it “missed the mark” in depicting Muslim women’s experiences; Paste Mag called it one of the year’s best new shows; Vulture reflected on the show’s depiction of wudu (ablution) and pointed to a scene “lifted, word for word, out of the lives of all Muslims”; Vulture also called it “so much more than just a mirror held up to one man’s life”; Fast Company said it shows Muslims have reached the point that they can “showcase our humanity, our pride, our flaws, and our contradictions in the context of telling our stories”; and The New Yorker said it’s “likely to make some Egyptians and Muslims angry, not because it misrepresents them but because, for once, it’s too honest.”

  • The new Aladdin remake depicts Agrabah as a pan-Arabian and South Asian culture, cutting out any specificity or reference to Islam. The reviews I’ve seen suggest it’s pretty boring and sluggish as a film, so I shan’t subject you to a list of them. But Vox also published a primer on the film’s complicated, Orientalist history, and The Ringer took a deep dive into the history of Arab actors in Hollywood and the ugly tropes they struggled with.

  • Looking for new beach reads? Niqabi author Hafsah Faizal just published “We Hunt The Flame,” a fantasy novel set in a fictional ancient Arabia. And G. Willow Wilson’s latest book reimagines the final days of Moorish Spain.


  • In both Muslim and left circles, the issue of Christian persecution abroad has been downplayed and even ignored for far too long, Mehdi Hasan writes for The Intercept.

  • The American right is systematically trying to cover up far-right crimes by focusing attention on the Muslim community, Huma Yasin writes for Al Jazeera.

  • Rep. Omar’s now-infamous comments about 9/11 actually carried a deeply American message, Peter Beinart writes at The Atlantic.

  • Anti-Muslim attacks aren’t just senseless acts of violence. They actually make “perfect sense” in the context of U.S. history, anthropologist Nadia Kazi explains in an interview with Sojourners.

  • A Muslim-focused Instagram page held a giveaway to meet the families of those killed in Christchurch. That’s the latest example of why ‘celebrity Muslims’ are the least qualified people to lead activist efforts, Vanessa Taylor argues for Al Jazeera


  • These cab drivers have turned a construction trailer in a remote lot at Philadelphia International Airport into a makeshift mosque—"a place of spiritual refuge amid the most prosaic of surroundings, a crumbling slab of asphalt where they park while waiting for fares from arriving flights."

  • Enes Kanter has fasted for Ramadan while playing basketball for the past decade. But this year is his first time fasting while in the NBA playoffs. Read more about Kanter at The Ringer.

  • The Pillars Fund seeks to strengthen a network of Muslim support groups with philanthropy while countering negative stereotypes.

  • Hoda Muthana wants to come home. In an extensive feature, BuzzFeed News catalogs four years of reporting on the Alabama girl who ran away to join ISIS.

  • Myisha McGahee-Wooten is black, female, Muslim, covered, and licensed to carry.

  • Shariq Siddiqui is the inaugural director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University.

  • These Latino Americans are part of a wave of conversion to Islam across the country, including in Texas and Philadelphia.


Mapping Islamophobia is a project led by Caleb Elfenbein, an associate professor of history and religious studies at Grinnell College, and his students. By looking through national and local media coverage, the project collects decade’s worth of data on anti-Muslim activity across the U.S. as well as Muslims’ efforts to counter Islamophobia and offers a stunning visual representation loaded with data.

All the data collected—including gender of victims and verified location information, down to the block—is available for download and use via a Creative Commons license. Definitely a fantastic resource for academics, activists and journalists alike.


Over the next few months, I’m hunting for story ideas on ways that Muslims are gathering and building faith-based communities outside the mosque.

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

- Aysha

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