Creeping Sharia: 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