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