Domestic abuse, Shiite seminaries and deathcare

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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

WaPo — Not many Uighurs escape the checkpoints and cameras. Fewer still make it all the way to the U.S. But Zumrat Dawut, her husband and their three kids got out. She survived internment and an unwanted sterilization, then fled to Pakistan. Now that she’s reached Virginia, will the U.S. let her stay?

HuffPost — Rowaida Abdelaziz spoke to more than a dozen Muslim survivors of domestic violence, who told her how they have to face anti-Muslim sentiment, stigma within their own community, imams who are unequipped to deal with abuse, a lack of culturally-appropriate services, and increasingly anti-Muslim policies.

Yale Daily News — “You were born into this world naked and you will go to the grave naked.” An in-depth look at Muslim deathcare in New England, from the women who perform the ritual ghusl washing to the legal and financial quandaries Muslim families face when their loved ones pass.

Wired — Amazon, the second-­largest private employer in the country, has shown a knack for dictating its own terms. Now a group of Somali immigrants at one Minnesota warehouse are leading the fight to change the tech behemoth with historic organizing feats.

🗳 POLITICS

  • The Trump administration is considering including more countries in its Muslim travel ban, per reports. It’s all part of the president’s election-year calculus, some critics say.

  • Muslim advocacy group Emgage called on the U.S. to boycott the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing over country’s mass detention of Uighurs.

  • Around the country, an estimated 34 Muslim candidates won local elections out of more than 80 who ran. In Virginia, Ghazala Hashmi helped Democrats take full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades by becoming one of the two first-ever Muslim woman elected to the state senate. After Hashmi’s election, racist comments flooded Facebook, with social media users linking her to terrorism and saying it was a “sad day.” She also joined new Virginia school board member Abrar Omeish, the youngest person elected to office in the state and the first Libyan American elected to any office nationwide, as one of four Muslim women just elected to office in Virginia. Washington state also apparently elected its first two Muslim women to office.

  • Safiya Khalid, who became the first Somali American and the youngest candidate to ever win a seat on the city council of Lewiston, Maine, also faced racist troll campaigns and death threats. A local news outlet offered an alarming look inside the private Facebook groups where users shared Khalid’s home address and advocated “killing as many Muslims as possible.”

  • “Trolling is now mainstream political discourse.” A new study detailing the hatred directed at 166 U.S. Muslim candidates during the 2018 midterm elections found that the hate is more prevalent online than offline, and that much of the “manufactured outrage” came from small fringe groups amplified by bots. The Detroit Free Press explored how that played out in Michigan, where 29 Muslim candidates ran for office. The study also outlines the extreme levels of online hate Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have faced since they began campaigning.

  • Reps. Omar and Tlaib have also been subjected to such hate offline as well: a New York man just pleaded guilty to threatening to shoot Omar. The congresswoman has asked that he be treated with “compassion” in sentencing. Omar’s Republican challenger was also suspended from Twitter for posting that Omar should be hanged over a contspiracy theory that Omar gave sensitive information to Iran.

  • A federal watchdog found that Trump’s political appointees retaliated against a State Department staffer in part because of her Iranian background and her perceived political views.

  • Three congressmen have asked the State Department to investigate possible terror financing links within two American Muslim organizations, Islamic Circle of North America and Helping Hands for Relief and Development.

🕌 COMMUNITY

  • As Islamic scholars experience more and more difficulty entering the U.S. from the Middle East, American mosques say the need to produce domestically-trained imams is ramping up. Increasingly, Shiite seminaries are launching in North America to tackle the shortage of leaders.

  • When prison chaplains are volunteers, Jewish and Muslim faiths are underrepresented. In L.A. jails, chaplains from the minority groups report a shortage of volunteers and institutional support from their communities, which limits the services they can provide.

  • A group of Latina Muslims in San Diego is raising money to build a shelter across the border in Tijuana. Their aim is not only to assist the surge of migrants there, but also to help deportees from the U.S.

  • In Chicago’s South Side, a struggling neighborhood is making its way back—thanks to faith-based community organizations like the Inner City Muslim Action Network. (Learn more about IMAN’s work with Muslim prisoner re-entry in this recent interview I did.)

  • Chicagoans with Middle Eastern and North African roots feel erased by the U.S. Census. But advocacy groups say participating in the census is essential even if they don’t see a category on the form that fits them.

  • In Dearborn, Michigan, shame and secrecy around addiction is causing some Muslim and Arab opioid addicts and their families to forgo treatment. In the Twin Cities, young East African advocates are pushing the problem of drug addiction—“a monster…raging in our community”—into the light in the hope of saving lives.

  • A Twin Cities hospital just became the first in the country to carry hijabs in its gift shop, after a Somali Muslim hospital worker noticed patients struggling with makeshift hijabs to cover their heads.

  • More and more Latinos are leaving the Catholic Church for Islam. Here’s why.

  • Long Beach, California is mourning the loss of a young Muslim couple and their 3-year-old, who were killed by a suspected drunk driver.

  • The Islamic Center of Tennessee is bringing a traveling exhibit on Jesus to Nashville to help inform locals about Muslims’ perspective on Jesus as a prophet.

  • The College Board has expanded its testing options to avoid conflicts with Eid al-Fitr next year, after requests from Maryland school and Muslim community leaders.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a challenge involving Muslim men who claim they were wrongfully placed on the U.S. no-fly list in retaliation for refusing to act as government informants, which they say violates their religious beliefs. The legal question at hand: Can individual federal employees be sued for money damages for religious freedom violations? And could allowing such claims gut anti-discrimination protections, as some leftist writers suggest?

  • A federal court has ruled that searches of travelers’ electronic devices without suspicion by federal agents at airports and other U.S. ports of entry are unconstitutional. The ACLU and EFF had filed a lawsuit on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful resident whose devices were searched without a warrant, several of whom were Muslim.

  • “Citizenship is permanently conditional for many people who were not born here.” A New York Muslim who became a U.S. citizen as a child is suddenly facing deportation, along with four green card-holding relatives, after his brother was arrested for terrorist activity.

  • In 1996, Bill Clinton signed two bills into law. “Here We Are” author Aarti Shahani explains how they’ve impacted her family—and created the legal architecture for today’s border crisis. The laws, which created a mass deportation pipeline and widened use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings against legal residents accused of terrorism, were weaponized largely against Arabs and Muslims.

  • A New Jersey Muslim police officer filed a federal lawsuit alleging that he was harassed and reprimanded for his beard being “too manicured.”

  • “I wanted to leave my home in Washington, take the first flight to Tehran and bring him back with me. But I am unable to travel to Iran.” Mehrnaz Samimi writes about the human cost of Iran-U.S. conflict.

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

  • Authorities have ruled the death of Ola Salem – the young hijab-wearing woman found dead at a Staten Island park this fall – a homicide. Salem was an “unapologetic” advocate for Muslim women and children fleeing abuse.

  • A Muslim couple in Ohio filed a federal lawsuit after their 10-year-old son said he was questioned by teacher about his patriotism and religious beliefs and was told to undress to determine if he had been abused at home.

  • A student at the Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan filed a complaint against a professor for an “Islamophobic rant” against the student that questioned his loyalty to America and accused him of being radicalized.

  • An elderly Somali man in Minneapolis was beaten to death after he boarded a bus to return home from prayer; a Staten Island man was charged with a hate crime for threatening a Muslim woman and child with knife; a San Diego man brutally beat a Syrian refugee teen for speaking Arabic on a train; a Minnesota food delivery worker says he was assaulted by a customer who shouted racist and anti-Muslim slurs at him; and a Wisconsin woman says she’s struggling to keep her new chocolate shop open partly because of discrimination since she converted to Islam.

  • A Muslim woman was told to remove her hijab when she attended an NBA game in Denver. Also in Denver, a man was charged with felony menacing for allegedly pointing a gun at people outside a mosque, but as it seems to have been a drunken local he will not prosecuted for a hate crime.

  • Four months after winning the visa lottery and moving to the U.S., and days after the 9/11 attacks, Rais Bhuiyan was shot in the face while working at a convenience store. Years later, after performing hajj in Mecca, he’s dedicated his life to ridding the world of hate.

  • Muslim students in a Chicago-area high school say a fight broke out after a classmate desecrated a Quran. School officials deny the incident, instead saying the fight was prompted by students AirDropping images showing blackface and using the n-word to others’ phones.

🎭 CULTURE

  • A grassroots movement of Muslims is pushing for halal meat production to emphasize sustainable and humane animal husbandry in addition to halal slaughter.

  • Muslim filmmaker Minhal Baig’s “Hala” has been raked over the coals for featuring yet another protagonist with a fraught relationship with Islam and who sees her white love interest as key to self-actualization. But as Hannah Georgis notes, the film is sharpest when viewed on its own terms—the way coming-of-age films about white teens are. 

  • For WaPo, NBA player Enes Kanter wrote about what he thinks Trump should have said to Erdogan when they met at the White House. The Boston Celtics’ center also sat down with WGBH to discuss what it means to eat Turkish food in Boston, chatted with Boston Magazine about his relationship with Turkey, Erdogan and Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, and spoke to The Athletic about why he’s fighting for his country.

  • Former NHL player Nail Yakopov has been said to be Muslim, as has retired player Tie Domi. But with Colorado Avalanche’s new center Nazem Kadri, who told the Denver Post he might be the only Muslim currently in the NHL, it’s matter-of-fact.

  • Tank Magazine interviewed the fantastic Hoda Katebi, the fashion blogger-activist-abolitionist behind an ethical clothing manufacturing co-op.

  • Iranian American artist Ardeshir Tabrizi’s work shows a fractured sense of identity.

  • Muslim teens are using the social video app Tik Tok to raise awareness about the plight of Uighur Muslims in China—and facing censorship as a result.

🧠 ARGUMENTS

  • Soon after former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his bid for the presidency, Bloomberg stood before a black church and apologized for the New York police’s stop-and-frisk policy. But where, Albert Fox Cahn and Dean Obeidallah ask, is his apology for his role in the NYPD’s massive surveillance of the city’s Muslim, Middle Eastern and South Asian communities?

  • After Rep. Peter King resigned, the Senate’s top Democrat Chuck Schumer offered a tribute to the Long Island Republican as a “principled” lawmaker. Several left-wing writers immediately objected to the rewriting of King’s problematic legacy. “No legislator did more to demonize American Muslims than he did,” The Daily Beast wrote. BuzzFeed called him “the United States’ leading anti-Muslim fearmonger.” The Intercept railed against his “deep-seated and long-standing Islamophobia.” Critics homed in on his role in urging police to surveil mosques and investigate Muslims; his claims that the U.S. has too many mosques; his role in fanning the flames of the Ground Zero Mosque non-scandal; and most importantly, the infamous 2011 hearings he spearheaded on U.S. Muslim radicalization, during which King suggested that “80% of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams.” (It’s worth noting that some Muslims have cultivated a positive relationship with King, who co-chaired the bipartisan Congressional Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus.)

  • The waiver process for permission to wear a hijab during a race is part of the problem, not a solution, one runner explains after another young Muslim was disqualified from a race: “Every time I compete, I am at the mercy of race directors as to whether my results will count.” (Don’t miss this article on what it means to be a hijabi runner, either—all prompted by Rowaida Abdelaziz’s reporting earlier this fall.)

  • Though compelling arguments have been made that Countering Violent Extremism programs contribute to the marginalization and alienation of the very communities they’re meant to engage, they continue to receive funding from major institutions, Northwestern professors Elizabeth Shakman Hurd and Brannon Ingram write.

  • The new film “The Report” dramatizes the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program. But its audience, as Maha Hilal argues, “seems to be those looking for a white savior movie that takes US torture after 9/11 as an exception, not a rule, in the history of the United States. To this end, the US’s brutal history of state violence, whether by the CIA or other institutions, is left unquestioned while the film de-centers the US’s many victims—who in this case, are all Muslim.”

  • "As a white-passing Muslim—the daughter of a Jordanian-Syrian immigrant of both Circassian and Western Asian descent, I've been privy to Islamophobia my entire life," writes Nadine Jolie Courtney, author of the new young adult novel “All-American Muslim Girl.”

👌 SHOUT OUT

Regular readers of this newsletter have probably noticed a frequent new news source popping up. Founded by Mukhtar Ibrahim, Sahan Journal is a new independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, aiming to chronicle the stories of the state’s immigrant and refugee communities. Ibrahim, who serves as the newsroom’s editor and executive director, previously reported for the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News. Read their articles here.

This week Sahan was chosen to receive funding from Report for America, which will allow the newsroom to add two new reporters and a photographer. Sahan has also been selected for the national NewsMatch campaign, which means all your donations through the end of this month will be matched. Donate 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

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

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 😫

📌 TOP PICKS

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.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • 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.

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

  • 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.

🗳 POLITICS

  • 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.

🤲 LIFE & FAITH

  • 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.

🧠 ARGUMENTS

  • “[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?” 

🍿 POP CULTURE

  • “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.”

👌 SHOUT OUT

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.

🗣 TALK TO ME

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.

📌 TOP PICKS

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.

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

  • 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.

🗳 POLITICS

  • 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.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • 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.

🤲 LIFE & FAITH

  • 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.

🧠 ARGUMENTS

  • 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.

🍿 POP CULTURE

  • 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+.

👌 SHOUT OUT

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.

🗣 TALK TO ME

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. 💛

📌 TOP PICKS

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.

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

  • 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.

🗳 POLITICS

  • 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.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • 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 🤔.)

🤲 LIFE & FAITH

  • 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.

🧠 ARGUMENTS

  • 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.”

🍿 POP CULTURE

  • 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.

👌 SHOUT OUT

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.

🗣 TALK TO ME

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

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