Friday, April 09, 2010

Some Interesting Links from News from Malcolm X to Tareq Ramadan to Virginia to Detroit

I am of an Ibrahimic or Abrahamic Faith.

In honor of the fact that Tareq Ramadan was on Democracy Now today and speaking of his father’s correspondences with Malcolm X in 1965, i.e. in the period when Malcolm was revising his world-view from a black and white extremist view of Islam to a more social-justice-for-all-regardless-of-race-and-class, I would like to reprint some news reports from MAS this week. MAS is a muslim grouping in America that is interested in the same orientation.

Virginia Governor Reverses Call for Celebration of “Confederate History Month”

MAS Freedom Thanks Community for Rapid Response to Controversial and Painful Proclamation

In an obvious response to the firestorm of criticism following his gubernatorial proclamation of “Confederate History Month” in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell issued a public apology for his omission of any reference to slavery and human suffering that was an integral
part of the ideology of the Confederate States of America.

MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray, immediately sent a letter to the governor, communicating the organization’s firm opposition to the proclamation and citing the racial divisiveness and injurious consequences of any official celebration of the Confederacy. In addition, other civil rights leaders in Virginia, and throughout the nation, sent similar communications to Governor McDonnell condemning the proposed commemoration

The governor reportedly spent much of Wednesday, April 7, calling and apologizing to prominent Black political leaders in Virginia for omitting any reference to slavery and human suffering in his proclamation, noting that “Slavery was an evil, vicious, and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”

However, despite modifying the words of the proclamation to honor Virginia’s Confederate legacy, there is no indication that Governor McDonnell has actually retracted the proclamation itself.

MAS Freedom congratulates the Muslim community for its immediate and diligent response to this insulting and divisive proclamation, as we also congratulate the civil rights and community leaders in Virginia and the nation, that spoke out forcefully against honoring the Confederacy. However, we urge our community and all people of good will to demand not the “modification” of this proclamation, but its full retraction.

Bray stated that, “We are pleased that Governor McDonnell has publicly acknowledged the evil and barbarity of the slave system that the Confederacy fought to preserve. But that is not enough. Now, he must do the right thing and completely, and irrevocably, end this insult once and for all by nullifying the proclamation in its entirety.”

MAS Freedom encourages our constituents to continue to demand that this proclamation be rescinded. Please call the office of Governor McDonnell at (804)-786-2211, or send an email message to him by visiting his website at

Photos Raise Questions About Shooting of Cuffed Muslim Leader

ABC News – A fiery Muslim leader who was shot dead during an attempt to arrest him in Dearborn, Mich., was found to have been riddled with 21 shots including one in the back. He also had a broken jaw, broken teeth and his hands were cuffed behind his back, according to an autopsy report. Luqman’s family says there’s no proof he was carrying a gun that day, and the family has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to get the necropsy report for the dead police dog to determine whether the dog was killed by a police bullet. The request has been declined.

Obama talks less of terror in outreach to Muslims

WASHINGTON – Less talk about “Islamic radicalism” and a lot more about doing business. In the year since President Barack Obama pledged a new beginning in the relationship with the Muslim world, the White House has begun to change the U.S. focus.Terrorism still dominates U.S. security concerns, but the White House believes it doesn’t have to dominate the conversation. Since Obama’s speech in Cairo last year, the White House has tried to talk more about health care, science and education.

Michigan Radio plans special series on “Muslims in Michigan”

Michigan Radio, the public-radio service of the University of Michigan, plans to focus on Muslims in the state next week. A special public conversation is also planned as part of the effort. The series will be part of the morning and evening news programs next week, carried locally on WUOM (91.7-FM).



Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

AMY GOODMAN: Today, a Democracy Now! special with a leading Muslim scholar who was banned from entering the United States for six years. The Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan is a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, the president of the Brussels-based think tank European Muslim Network, and the author of a number of influential books on Islam and Europe.

In 2004, Tariq Ramadan had accepted a job at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and Time Magazine listed him among the top 100 thinkers in the world. But nine days before Ramadan was set to start teaching here in the United States, the Bush administration revoked his visa, invoking a provision of the PATRIOT Act that allows the government to deny entry to non-citizens who, quote, “endorse or espouse terrorism.” The ACLU took up Tariq Ramadan’s case in court and claimed he was being excluded because of his views. The administration then accused Ramadan of donating over $1,000 to a charity that had allegedly given money to the Palestinian group Hamas.

Well, in January of this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lifted the travel ban on Tariq Ramadan and another scholar, the South African Adam Habib, who we interviewed on Democracy Now! earlier this week. Tariq Ramadan arrived in the United States on Wednesday evening.

Anjali Kamat and I spoke to him yesterday, shortly before he gave his first public address in this country at Cooper Union here in New York. We began by asking him to explain why he had been barred from entering the United States.

TARIQ RAMADAN: Look, I was banned from the country six years ago, and I was told that this was because of the PATRIOT Act and my connection and my links with terrorist groups. And then this was removed, and they said, “Oh, you gave money, and you, yourself, acknowledge the fact that you gave money to organizations that are allegedly, you know, connected to Hamas and terrorist groups.” But they made a mistake, because I gave the money one year before this organization—these organizations were blacklisted in the States, and they are not blacklisted in Europe. So, you know, it’s just a silly and ridiculous decision.

And at the end of the day, what is quite clear for me is that the fact that I was so very critical, so much critical towards the foreign policy in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and criticizing also the unilateral support of the United States of America towards Israel and not acknowledging the Palestinian rights, is something which, at the end, was the main reason, knowing that this is what I have been saying. I am critical towards the American policy—I have been—and very much against the Bush administration.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about why the policy has changed under President Obama, what they told you, and then, when you came into the country and were taken in by immigration, what questions they asked you?

TARIQ RAMADAN: First, about—you know, it’s quite clear that there is a shift in the American policy. And from the beginning, you know, when I was supported by ACLU and American Academy of Religions and other—you know, the American Association of University Professors and PEN, it was quite clear that I was—I should not confuse between people, Americans who are supportive and defending the human dignity and human rights, and this specific Bush administration, having something which is a binary vision of the reality—you are with us or against us. Now you have elected a president who is much more sophisticated than the previous one, and his administration is different. So what we can see now is, you know, the banning of scholars is something which is quite over. They want to change this, and they want to engage into open dialogue and critical dialogue. And I think that this is the way forward. So I would say that what is the reality of the United States now is this something which is new. So we have signals that things are changing.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Now, on the global picture, we still need to see more coming from the Obama administration, when it comes to what I still criticize, when it comes to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine and the rights of the Palestinians. So we want now this administration to deliver much more than only to speak. The speeches are good and open and right. I would say this, and I’m always constructively critical when I see things moving. I say, OK, this is good. But I think that this is the way now it’s moving. So there are changes in your country, and they are welcome. And this is why I’m here. I would say that this is a political decision that says this era is over now. We are opening a new chapter with the relationship—as to the relationship with the Muslims in the West and the Muslim-majority countries.

Still, when I arrived yesterday in the country, something which was quite interesting is that they were asking me, “Why are you here? What are you talking about, and who are you meeting?” And I would say that the first step is to let me in. The second step is to avoid asking me this question. In a democratic society, you don’t ask someone, “What are you going to speak about?” I am used—I was used to this in my country of origin in Egypt, and I am banned from Egypt, where they were asking me, “Where? Who with? Whom are you going to meet, and what are the topics you are talking about?” In a non-democratic society you can expect this, not in the United States of America.

ANJALI KAMAT: In June of last year, President Obama gave a much-heralded speech in Cairo to the Muslim world. What’s your assessment of the way he’s reaching out to the Muslim world, while continuing, in many ways, the policies of the Bush administration, in some ways worsening them in certain places?

TARIQ RAMADAN: Look, my first reaction was a positive reaction, because I really think that this speech in Cairo was a very good one. It was a brilliant discourse, open to the Muslim-majority countries, but not only. You know, many people were saying, OK, he was addressing the Muslims around the world, which is not only this that he was doing. He was also talking to Americans, saying, look, American Muslims are contributing, and they are part of this country—something that I’ve been saying for the last twenty years. Islam is an American religion, is a European religion. And to speak about them, outside, it’s wrong. So I think that he was targeting and trying to get the Muslim-majority countries, but also Muslims and Americans from within. So this was a very important discourse.

While, as I said, we are happy to see a new vision, a new way of talking, now we want practical measures. We want to see things happening. We spoke about Guantánamo, and still—you know, we were told it was going to be closed, and still we have the problem, it’s not going to happen. In Iraq and Afghanistan, while he was against the war in Iraq, that’s fine, but now how are we going to solve the problem in Afghanistan, where many people are not clear on what is happening? This war is a mistake. It’s wrong. And in Iraq, it’s illegal. And then we are talking today about the tensions between the United States of America and the Israeli government and Netanyahu. That’s fine. These are tensions. But is it going to change? Are we going to see something on the ground which is protecting the Palestinian dignity and rights? I don’t see this happening.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Kevin Anthony Stoda said...

Tareq Ramadan concludes

So, I’m not naive. We know that during the first term of a new president it’s very difficult for him to change, and it takes time. But still, we want more than words, and we want things to happen. So there is something which is a mixed feeling towards the new president, which is, OK, that’s good, new vision, smart, intelligent, charismatic president, but still, policies are not moving the way we want and not—he can do better on translating these speeches into policies.

ANJALI KAMAT: And let’s move to an issue you’ve written extensively about, which is Muslims in Europe, and how you see—you said Islam is a European religion, Islam is an American religion. Expand what you mean by this, and talk about it in the context of growing Islamophobia in Europe. We’ve seen the Swiss attempt to ban minarets, the French attempt to ban full veils on women, the crisis over the cartoons. Talk about what it’s like to be Muslim in Europe.

TARIQ RAMADAN: Look, I am used to speak about Western Muslims. And as much as you are talking about security here, we talk about new visibility there. You don’t have a problem with visibility in the States, for example, but you may have a problem with this presence and mistrust. In Europe, we have—we are facing exactly the same problems with new populist parties, old populist parties, far-right parties, using the Muslim presence and pushing us toward something which is emotional politics, using fears and very old racist attitudes and, you know, logic, just to target the Muslims: “They are threatening the very homogeneity of our culture.”

So this is something which is really important, while, what I’m saying, it’s—we are dealing with perceptions. So there is a clash of perception and mistrust here, while if you look at facts and figures, millions of Muslims are American, Canadian, European, and they don’t have a problem. They are abiding by the law, and they don’t have a problem of living as European. When I’m saying that, for example, I’m a European Muslim, I’m European by culture and Muslim by religion, and there is no problem. I find my way.

And this is the three L’s that I’m mentioning in my last book. I say we need to abide by the three L’s. The first one is to abide by the law of the country, to know the language of the country, and to be loyal to our country. And to be loyal means critically loyal. I’m a citizen when I’m saying yes when it’s right, and I can be critical when I think it’s wrong. So this critical loyalty is very important

8:34 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home