Our Three Winners, social media visa, Blue Tin Production

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

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

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

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

📌 TOP PICKS

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

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

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

🆘 DISCRIMINATION & HATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🗳 POLITICS

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

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

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

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

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

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

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

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

🤲 LIFE & FAITH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

🧠 ARGUMENTS

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

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

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

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

🍿 POP CULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

👌 SHOUT OUT

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

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

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

🗣 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., Amsterdam or Vegas?

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

- Aysha