Pandemic matchmaking, RIP Patriot Act, Muslim Atlantic

Little, and big, fires everywhere.

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

NBC — A deadly house fire killed an entire family of five Muslim Senegalese immigrants in Denver. Police are now searching for three hooded people in full face masks suspected of intentionally setting the fire.

RNS — Tahir Ahmad Naseem’s claim to prophethood got him arrested and murdered in Pakistan. His daughter is urging the State Dept. to deliver justice for him, a U.S. citizen who she says America failed to protect from Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws.

HuffPost — Phoenix police mocked a disabled Black man’s faith as they killed him, newly released footage shows. Police are disputing that interpretation.

WaPo — With many mosques still closed, Muslim converts navigate their new spiritual path online through Zoom conversions and streamed services.

RNS – Two Black Muslim women founded Eye Meets Soul, a virtual blind matchmaking experience for Muslim millennials inspired by the show “Love is Blind.” But it turns out getting Muslims to look past race and ethnicity is easier said than done, even during a pandemic.

Longreads — When your name is Osama and you’re living in post-9/11 America, you always know The Question is coming: “Do you get sh*t for your name?”

🕌 COMMUNITY

  • Central Minnesota’s St. Cloud, once known as “White Cloud,” isn’t an easy place for outsiders to settle in. As Somali immigrants integrate into the community, the town finds itself poised uneasily between tension and accommodation.

  • A lack of Muslim funeral services has long posed a serious problem for Queens's Bangladeshi community, but the pandemic has exacerbated the need.

  • For a Dawoodi Bohra mosque in Texas, COVID-19 is changing the way worshippers mark the Ashara Mubaraka holiday.

  • Immigrant health workers help keep the U.S. health system afloat, and they’re dying of COVID-19 at high rates.

  • Meet the rishta aunty of Instagram.

  • Black Muslims help form the backbone of America's civil rights movement.

  • An Ohio teacher developed a curriculum for human trafficking that raises awareness among adults and vulnerable young people.

  • The pandemic brings new acceptance for women who wear the niqab: “People now see that covering your face is a symbol of safety and protection.”

  • The Bangladeshi restaurant owner who said “let my building burn” after his restaurant was destroyed in Minneapolis protests is now rebuilding stronger.

  • Uighur American journalist Gulchehra Hoja has spent 17 years reporting on the oppression of her people in China.

  • When a Qatari sheikh came to live in L.A., an entire economy sprouted to meet his wishes, the L.A. Times reports.

  • Amir Rizvi, a longtime advocate for Muslims in Maryland, has died.

🗳 POLITICS

  • A survey of over 1,500 respondents found that Muslim Americans care more about civil rights, health care and education reforms than foreign policy.

  • Muslim activists are asking for a probe into potential voter suppression in a New York town where hundreds of ballots from voters with Arabic names were disqualified. Meanwhile, Muslim groups are rallying thousands to register to vote, determined not to have a repeat of the 2000 or 2016 elections.

  • The Biden-Harris campaign have issued a comprehensive “Plan for Partnership” with Arab Americans, receiving mixed reviews from Arab American activists. Notably, Biden vows to end the Trump administration’s new Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention program—an “evolution” of Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism program. This promise was not included in Biden’s plans aimed at Muslim or Black communities, though CVE programs have not just targeted people of Arab heritage.

  • Just days before, a campaign adviser disavowed Arab American activist Linda Sarsour’s views on BDS after her brief DNC appearance, saying, “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.” Sarsour said the attack was “unprovoked” and a “big mistake” for the campaign in terms of mobilizing Arab and Muslim voters. While campaign officials apologized to other Arab and Muslim Democrats in a private meeting, many Muslim activists say the campaign’s effort to distance itself from Sarsour “alienates” Muslim voters.

  • The Biden campaign also faced backlash for allowing Amit Jani, a senior staffer with Hindu nationalist ties, to organize and attend an online rally for Pakistani Americans.

  • In the Minnesota district where George Floyd was killed, Omar Fateh wants to bring the progressive wave to the state legislature.

⚖️ LAW & POLICY

  • Reps. Omar and Tlaib called for an investigation into reports that Muslim immigration detainees were forced to eat either pork or expired halal food.

  • A judge ordered Islamic scholar Ali Al-Timimi be released from custody due to coronavirus while he pursues an appeal. Al-Timimi is serving a life sentence for allegedly attempting to steer young men to join the Taliban after 9/11.

  • As Trump relaunches the federal Countering Violent Extremism program, records on the Illinois program reveal past coordination with FBI, Chicago Police and Chicago Public Schools.

  • Barred from wearing hijabs at work, former youth detention center staff sue Delaware.

  • After an arduous journey to the U.S., Osamah Mahyoub was initially denied protection by immigration officials and faced deportation back to Yemen. Now he’s been granted asylum.

  • A Somali American man is suing the feds for blocking his gun purchase. Is it a case of mistaken identity?

  • A Baltimore woman is suing a McDonald's franchisee over alleged sexual harassment and religious discrimination after she converted to Islam. In Utah, a formerly Mormon mechanic alleges that he was harassed by coworkers and fired after telling them he was converting to Islam.

  • A suit by a Muslim man in an Oklahoma prison has been revived, challenging officials’ ban against him praying in a common room.

🆘 HATE & CRIME

  • Yasir Said, one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, has been arrested over the 2008 homicide of his daughters Amina and Sarah. Texas Muslims fear anti-Muslim stereotypes about so-called “honor killings” may soon reemerge.

  • Two teens have been charged in connection to an assault of an imam near a Minnesota mosque.

  • A Staten Island man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a Muslim teen with a baseball bat, while telling him to "go back to your country."

  • The man who killed 15-year-old Somali student outside a Kansas City mosque in 2014 has been sentenced to four decades in prison.

  • A pregnant woman was shot and killed in Maryland on Eid.

  • A Minneapolis woman pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charged and admitted to a failed effort join al-Qaida and setting fires at a local university.

  • A woman says she had urine thrown at her and was spat on by a group of men for wearing a hijab.

  • A suspect has been taken into custody after the future site of Washington mosque was destroyed in an act of arson.

🎭 CULTURE

  • Netflix has canceled “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj,” a show that steadily proved itself among the best of its genre.

  • “Punching The Air,” a new children’s book by Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five, tells a story of hope behind bars.

  • Read an excerpt from the forthcoming “The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X,” by Les Payne.

  • Meet Misha Euceph, the young changemaker behind The Michelle Obama Podcast.

  • Manhattan’s first full-blown Uighur restaurant debuts with skewered meat and stuffed pastries.

  • StoryCorps’ new audio collection highlights Muslim and immigrant voices and honors late journalist Liyna Anwar.

🧠 COMMENTARY

  • Aymann Ismail: Uh, what did Joy Reid just say about Muslims on MSNBC?

  • Elham Khatami: “Years later, when I was old enough to understand, he told me they’d never have been able to make it in America if it wasn’t for me.”

  • Hebh Jamal: Why do Muslim organizations still seek close ties with police?

  • Nailah Dean: The hidden racism of the Muslim marriage market

  • Nadiah Mohajir: Muslims have a right to contraception. Why can evangelical bosses take that away?

  • Danny Hajjar: After the Beirut blasts, the Lebanese diaspora is left between helplessness and guilt.

  • Mitchell Plitnick: Linda Sarsour is a steadfast ally, Biden cannot afford to forget that.

👌 SHOUT OUT

Check out the latest issue of the quarterly magazine Critical Muslim. This issue considers the notion of a ‘Muslim Atlantic’ by looking at transatlantic connections between Muslims, and was curated in part by “The Muslim Atlantic” project researchers Daniel Nilsson DeHanas and Peter Mandaville. The research project and magazine issue explore points of convergence and divergence in how Muslims in the U.S. and U.K. are thinking about the present moment.

🗣 TALK TO ME

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

- Aysha