Moroccan muslim visit his fellow Chinese muslim brothers in the big mosque of Xian located in China.
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Moscow’s Muslims find no room in the mosque
On a cold Friday in March, Bolshaya Tatarskaya street in the centre of Moscow is at a standstill. It runs past the Russian capital’s oldest mosque.
More than two million Muslims now live and work in Moscow. It has become one of the biggest cities for Muslims in Europe and its few houses of worship can no longer cope.
During Friday prayers the historic building is overflowing and thousands of faithful are praying outside in the snow.
Cars honk their horns and local people struggle to get past on the pavements.
An appetite for war is being primed by absolving America’s guilt over the social chaos it has wrought on the Middle East
The recent Paris attacks have refocused the American mind on the threat posed by IS. Americans are demanding more boots on the ground, more bombing, more something, more anything – and like a moth drawn to the flame, the US media is trotting out the disgraced Iraq war “architects” and neo-cons of yesteryear to not only tell us what IS wants, but also why our violence will put an end to their violence.
War is always a ratings bonanza for the corporate-owned media class, and we the viewer are addicted to its pyrotechnics, violence and destruction.
“War is the force that gives us meaning,” reminds veteran war correspondent Chris Hedges – for war not only interrupts the tedious grind of our daily lives, it also “generates a warm, unfamiliar bond with our neighbours, our community, our nation, wiping out unsettling undercurrents of alienation and dislocation.”
Those who sell advertising based on ratings, meaning eyeballs, clicks and page turns, are well prepared to sate our lust for drone strikes, combat and carpet-bombing. But to sell a war, the war buyer must be first reassured the mission is noble, reasonable and democratic – and that the enemy is a figure of its own evil creation, something that is foreign and alienable to our self-righteous sense of morality.
In other words, the media must first make us feel good about ourselves before it can make us violently hostile towards those we wish to bomb, occupy and belittle.
On Monday, the front-page headline to the UK’s Sun newspaper read, “1 in 5 Brit Muslims sympathy for the jihadis” – based on a poll that has been debunked as dubious at best, sinister at worst. The Sun is not an outlier. The day after the Paris attacks, two leading CNN anchors told a Muslim rights activists that “all Muslims” “bear responsibility” for the ISIS attack that left 129 mostly Parisians dead. This is not only a heinous accusation, but may go down as one of the most despicable thing ever said by mainstream journalists on live television.
“Following Paris, the Murdoch press behaved like the Murdoch Press. The Daily Mail behaved like the Daily Mail. We shouldn’t be surprised. But now we have newspapers in this country right across the board, and that includes serious newspapers that claim to their readers that they have some gravity, some conscience – like The Guardian – being part of this escalation of war in the Middle East,” observes veteran UK-based journalist John Pilger.
In America, prominent activist journalist Glenn Greenwald accused CNN of juicing America’s “hunger” for war. An appetite that is being primed by absolving the nation’s guilt over the social chaos it has wrought on the Middle East.
The absolution of guilt is made possible via the externalisation of evil. Americans are again being told Islam is responsible for the violence and unrest in the Middle East; and that it is Islam that is responsible for the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
If one tuned into Fox News, CNN or MSNBC, one could be forgiven for believing the phony pretence for the Iraq invasion never happened; that the Iraq invasion never happened; that de-Baathification never happened; that bombing Libya and Yemen never happened; and that arming the leading sponsor of terrorism in the region – Saudi Arabia – doesn’t happen.
Blaming Islam for ISIS is how Americans forget all the above happened. Blaming Islam for ISIS is how Americans are made to feel good about themselves, and blaming Islam for ISIS is how Americans are easily led into supporting hypnotic but counter-productive military missions.
In March of this year, The Atlantic published an essay titled “What ISIS Really Wants”. For those seeking to blame Islam for ISIS, this is the Magna Carta. For neo-cons and right-wing loons, and for those seeking absolution for the Iraq invasion, Graeme Wood’s essay is as purifying as holy water.
A summation of the piece reads as follows: ISIS is Islamic, very Islamic, uber-Islamic, super-dooper Islamic, and exactly the terrorist group the Prophet Muhammad had in mind when he recited the Quran. So beware, all Muslims have the potential to be ISIS.
We now know from seized IS documents, interviews with captured and former IS fighters, and those who have spent time in IS-controlled territory that Wood’s essay is wildly ill-informed, stupendously inaccurate and in no way reflects the aims and motives of IS leadership. Yet Wood appears on each of the major cable television networks daily to discuss the hypothesis of his essay.
We can’t defeat ISIS if we misrepresent what and who ISIS actually is. Far from being the apocalyptic Islamist group that Wood contends they are, actual IS documents and blue prints reveal IS to be methodical state builders, led by secular Baathists – who aim to restore Sunni-Baathist power in Iraq. These documents also make clear that Saddam’s former generals (anti-Islamists) use Islam as a recruitment tool. “They [ISIS founders] reasoned that Baghdadi, an educated cleric, would give the group a religious face,” notes the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
These ISIS documents and blueprints are corroborated by interviews with captured ISIS fighters. Last month, Lydia Wilson of Oxford University published her findings. She found that recruits are drawn to ISIS for reasons that have little to do with extremist Islam. “They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the Caliphate,” observed Wilson.
The social chaos and lack of security in Iraq caused by the US invasion features as another theme among ISIS fighters. “The Americans came,” one ISIS fighters told interviewers. “They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”
A US general said this, the above “absolutely fits the typical profile” of an ISIS fighter. In other words, US military invasions and interventions in the Middle East are creating the conditions for ISIS to thrive.
Yet the media welcomes only those who blame Islam or “radical Islam” and not those who speak to the conditions that make ISIS appealing.
Those conditions that place the blame at the feet of US military intervention, US-backed dictatorships, and US arms sales to both sponsors of terrorism and actual terrorist groups themselves.
But blaming Islam makes us feel good about ourselves. Blaming Islam is good for television ratings. Blaming Islam makes it easier to sell new wars.
– CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America (2013)
Update from American Daee Jamal Omar:
I came to the Masjid to pray Dhuhr and as I was leaving some of the brothers said a strange guy has come to the masjid. The man Michael has tattoos all over his body and the brothers were scared. I started talking to Michael who said he was a Christian. I asked why he had come to the masjid and apologized and explained about why Muslims are hesitant of tattoos. We had a long conversation and I was amazed how Allah (swt) kept his heart clean even in disobedience and how his belief was that of a Muslim. I explained that Muhammad (saw) said that if people of the book believe that Allah is One and not like His creation and that Muhammad (saw) is the messenger of God then accept it from them. Michael came in as a non-Muslim and left as Mika’eel the Muslim. Allahu Akbar. Allah is the best to guide his creation to guidance. Him and his wife and kids will join us for Iftar tonight. Please make dua that his wife also accepts as it will be a whole family who enters Islam, insha Allah.
Muslim astronaut’s miracle: Call to prayer in space.
Malaysian astronaut Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor had travelled to space (2007) as the ninth Muslim astronaut to show how a prayer could be made in space.
“Everyone who goes to space feels a miracle. During my trip in space that took place in the holy month of Ramadan, I heard a ‘call to prayer’ in the Space Station,” Shukor had said in an interview with Anatolia news agency.
“Time for fasting and prayer depends on where you are situated in space. As the space shuttle was launched from Kazakhstan, we took into consideration the local time in Kazakhstan. I prayed five times a day by taking into consideration the time in Kazakhstan. You had to turn your face toward the earth in order to pray in the direction of Makkah. The Space Station was in a position from where you could see the earth directly,” Shukor had said.
Francia. E’ quasi ufficiale، i musulmani supereranno i cattolici…
In circa quaranta anni la Francia è diventata la nazione dell’Europa occidentale dove la popolazione di origine musulmana è la più rilevante. E anche se non si conosce con certezza il loro numero – dai due ai sei milioni – un dato significativo riguarda la costruzione delle moschee». Tanto che، comparando i diversi dati statistici su cattolici e musulmani praticanti «è ipotizzabile il sorpasso dell’Islam sul cattolicesimo francese».
È quanto mette in luce l’Osservatore romano in un servizio dal titolo: “Mezzaluna crescente” nel quale si sottolinea che، in dieci anni، è raddoppiato nel Paese il numero delle moschee، «raggiungendo le duemila unità. Tanto che il leader islamico francese، Dalil Bubaker، rettore della grande moschea di Parigi، ha dichiarato che per soddisfare pienamente la domanda crescente dei fedeli le moschee dovrebbero essere almeno il doppio، cioè quattromila».
Short days and pleasant weather ease the fast for Brazil’s growing Muslim population.
BRASILIA, Brazil – For Ibrahim Nashawaty, a refugee from Syria now living in Brazil, his first Ramadan away from home has been a strange and unsettling experience so far.
“In some ways it is much harder here,” he tells AA, at the only mosque in Brazil’s capital Brasilia. “Everyone is eating and drinking on the streets all the time, because they are mainly Christians.”
“It is strange for me to see,” he adds.
But the 19-year-old, who fled the civil war raging in Syria six months ago with his three brothers and parents, admits that fasting in Brasilia has its benefits.
Muslim students at a Northern Ireland university have to pray in corridors, classrooms and forgotten corners of the campus because the college will not provide a dedicated space for prayer.
Students at Queen’s University Belfast are campaigning for the university to set aside a private area where they can pray – a move that would end constant struggles to find privacy while on campus.
Speaking on the BBC Radio Ulster Talkback programme, Ahmed Amer from the QUB Muslim society stressed that most other universities in England and in the Republic of Ireland have dedicated rooms for prayer – as does the University of Ulster.
“Having a prayer room on campus is just a sign that the university is accommodating the needs of its students,” he said.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) demanded that at least 470 Muslims from the Peuhl ethnic minority, trapped for several months in the Central African Republic town of Yaloke, around 200km from capital Bangui, need to be relocated as a matter of urgency, Al Jazeera reported.
Dalia al-Achi, public information officer for the UNHCR in Bangui, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that the group, who had initially fled from a number of towns in February 2014, were growingly desperate as living conditions worsened.
She added, the group required urgent humanitarian assistance and needed to be relocated to another part of the country or perhaps to neighbouring Cameroon or Chad.