Caring for domestic violence survivors, Somali refugees and Muslim seniors

"I have to find the Mecca of my heart."

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

📌 TOP PICKS

NYT — Thousands left political chaos, violence and danger in Somalia for Minneapolis. Now, many are surprised and alarmed at the dangers and distress they see in their new home.

Bklyner — In less than two years, the Asiyah Women’s Center has served over 175 Muslim women and children who are escaping domestic violence. But the coronavirus is pushing its volunteers beyond capacity.

Chicago Tribune — Arab American business owners have had stores in Black neighborhoods for decades. Now, activists are urging them to reflect on their relationships with their communities.

NYT — Mustafa Bayoumi explains how nuisance abatement laws often force stores in low-income neighborhoods, including those run by Arab Americans, to operate almost as an arm of law enforcement.

HuffPost — Protesting the national anthem cost NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf his career 24 years ago. Now he urges on today’s protesters: “Don’t take your feet off the gas at any cost whatsoever.”

The Intercept — Organizers must also work to defund federal surveillance programs as part of their demands to protect Black communities by defunding the police, attorney Nabihah Maqbool argues.

Sahan Journal — One young Somali woman spoke up about facing sexual assault. Suddenly, dozens of women across the diaspora broke their silence over the abuse and violence they’ve suffered.

🕌 COMMUNITY

  • With mosques beginning to reopen, Muslims are taking the opportunity to consider how these institutions can adapt financially and be more welcoming to women.

  • HuffPost, AP, and Sahan Journal looked at how Muslims are grappling with anti-Black racism in their own communities following George Floyd's death. Mosques around the country dedicated their sermons to condemning anti-Black racism and police brutality, following demands by Black Muslim leaders. In Brooklyn, Black Muslim women led a march against police brutality from Bay Ridge to the Barclays Center, where another anti-racism khutba was delivered. In St. Louis, Muslims marched from mosque to mosque supporting racial justice. A Texas mosque that invited a police chief to speak at its anti-racism event is facing backlash.

  • “I have to find the Mecca of my heart”: Muslim converts mourn the loss of this year’s hajj and their first chance to experience a fully Muslim environment.

  • A Somali-owned mental health clinic in South Minneapolis was shut down by the coronavirus, then destroyed in a fire during protests. Still, its founder is hard at work, looking for ways to deliver mental health care to the area’s vulnerable elderly immigrants and refugees.

  • A growing community of Latino Muslims speaks the language of shared cultures.

  • A national study tracking thousands of university students found that Muslim students made the greatest progress pluralistically in college. 

  • IN MEMORIAM 🤲  Rep. Ilhan Omar’s father, Nur Omar Mohamed, a “national treasure for Somalis,” died of covid-19 complications. Akbar Nurid-Din Shabazz spent 40 years as a chaplain to Texas inmates before dying of covid-19. Mouhamed Cisse, a high school student and promising musician, was shot on a West Philadelphia street.

🗳 POLITICS

  • Trump signed into law the Uyghur Human Rights Act, which calls for sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for detention camps—just as explosive allegations emerged that Trump told China’s president to continue building the camps.

  • A wave of young leftist Bangladeshi politicians lands in New York.

  • The White House's nominee for a top Pentagon position has a history of making inflammatory anti-Muslim comments. Biden has criticized the appointee.

  • High-ranking House Republicans quickly distanced themselves from a GOP congressional candidate in Georgia after her racist and anti-Muslim Facebook videos emerged.

  • Prominent Palestinian Americans issued a list of "principles" outlining their demands of candidates running in U.S. elections.

  • Muslim voters are getting organized for the 2020 election.

  • Santa Clara County District Attorney has backed off threats to file a whistleblower complaint against a Muslim public defender for his pro-protest blog posts.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • The Justice Department has sued Virginia’s Stafford County for “imposing restrictive zoning requirements” allegedly designed to blocked the state’s only Muslim cemetery from expanding. The restrictions, the Washington Post’s Editorial Board write, have “a distinct whiff of Islamophobia.” Muslims in Dearborn, too, are facing conflict as they seek to expand their cemetery.

  • A federal appeals court dismissed three lawsuits challenging the Muslim ban.

  • Muslim groups decried the aggressive prosecution of two lawyers of color, one of whom is Muslim, who were charged with torching an empty police car and now face potential life sentences.

  • A Muslim volunteer medic, arrested during a Miami protest, was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photo that was later broadcast in national news.

  • Thousands of U.S. citizens are stranded in Yemen more than three months after the country closed its borders to stem the outbreak.

  • Last year Alabama prevented an imam from accompanying a Muslim inmate at his execution, citing state policy that only allowed Christian chaplains in the death chamber. When a second Muslim death row inmate sued the Alabama Department of Corrections, the state barred all spiritual advisers. Now, he’s hoping a federal court will make sure he doesn’t die alone.

  • Three Michigan men charged with conspiring to support ISIS argue they never reached out to the terrorist group "until the FBI (put) a recruiter at their door."

  • A Somali woman alleges that Minneapolis police discriminated against her during an alleged unlawful search and groping.

  • An Indianapolis man says he was fired after asking his employer to allow him to pray five times a day and attend Friday prayers.

🆘 HATE & CRIME

  • A not-so-shocking study found that major U.S. newspapers are significantly more likely to cover and humanize the victims of Islamist terrorist attacks when they are non-Muslim.

  • A former Kentucky imam was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of conspiring to kidnap someone and money laundering.

  • The Tennessean published a full-page ad by a fringe Christian group that warned a “nuclear device” that “Islam” would soon set off in Nashville. The newspaper called the ad “utterly indefensible.” Here’s how it happened.

  • A Washington woman was arrested after allegedly pointing a loaded gun at her Black Muslim neighbors, including two children.

  • A northern New York mosque says someone broke in and stole donations.

🎭 CULTURE

  • TV & FILM 🎬 “God, help me make this real”: Ramy Youssef interviews co-star Mahershala Ali about the link between his faith and acting. Hasan Minhaj talks faith and seeking answers. Tan France just became a U.S. citizen.

  • BOOKS 📚 S.A. Chakraborty’s “Empire of Gold” offers a bittersweet, satisfying end to the Daevabad trilogy. Rep. Omar’s memoir chronicles her own fight for life, safety and stability. Fadumo Yusuf’s novel “Ayan, of the Lucky” follows a Somali refugee girl who aspires to become a doctor.

🧠 COMMENTARY

  • Surveillance initiatives such as Countering Violent Extremism as well as the newly rebranded Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention program paved the way for George Floyd’s killing, Vanessa Taylor writes.

  • Trump allegedly encouraged mass internment of Uighurs. But U.S. complicity in China’s suppression of Uighurs goes back to 9/11, Sean Roberts argues.

  • “After the killing of George Floyd, I hope that my community will speak out against injustices faced by Black people,” Nailah Dean writes.

  • “Something different is in the air,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says. “And hopefully it will lead to real change that will enable us to contend with the issue of bad policing.”

👌 SHOUT OUT

Founded in Maryland in 2017, the American Muslim Seniors Society connects minority adults 55 years and older, as well as family caregivers, with culturally sensitive resources to improve their quality of life and ability to age with dignity.

🗣 TALK TO ME

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

- Aysha