Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gift Wrap

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

From the New York Times - December 22, 2008

Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

David Ahntholz for The New York Times

Michael Muhammad Knight, the author of "The Taqwacores," which a college professor has called "The Catcher in the Rye" for young Muslims.

Published: December 22, 2008


CLEVELAND — Five years ago, young Muslims across the United States began reading and passing along a blurry, photocopied novel called "The Taqwacores," about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo.

"This book helped me create my identity," said Naina Syed, 14, a high school freshman in Coventry, Conn.

A Muslim born in Pakistan, Naina said she spent hours on the phone listening to her older sister read the novel to her. "When I finally read the book for myself," she said, "it was an amazing experience."

The novel is "The Catcher in the Rye" for young Muslims, said Carl W. Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Springing from the imagination of Michael Muhammad Knight, it inspired disaffected young Muslims in the United States to form real Muslim punk bands and build their own subculture.

Now the underground success of Muslim punk has resulted in a low-budget independent film based on the book.

A group of punk artists living in a communal house in Cleveland called the Tower of Treason offered the house as the set for the movie. The crumbling streets and boarded-up storefronts of their neighborhood resemble parts of Buffalo. Filming took place in October, and the movie will be released next year, said Eyad Zahra, the director.

"To see these characters that used to live only inside my head out here walking around, and to think of all these kids living out parts of the book, it's totally surreal," Mr. Muhammad Knight, 31, said as he roamed the movie set.

As part of the set, a Muslim punk rock musician, Marwan Kamel, 23, painted "Osama McDonald," a figure with Osama bin Laden's face atop Ronald McDonald's body. Mr. Kamel said the painting was a protest against imperialism by American corporations and against Wahhabism, the strictest form of Islam.

Noureen DeWulf, 24, an actress who plays a rocker in the movie, defended the film's message.

"I'm a Muslim and I'm 100-percent American," Ms. DeWulf said, "so I can criticize my faith and my country. Rebellion? Punk? This is totally American."

The novel's title combines "taqwa," the Arabic word for "piety," with "hardcore," used to describe many genres of angry Western music.

For many young American Muslims, stigmatized by their peers after the Sept. 11 attacks but repelled by both the Bush administration's reaction to the attacks and the rigid conservatism of many Muslim leaders, the novel became a blueprint for their lives.

"Reading the book was totally liberating for me," said Areej Zufari, 34, a Muslim and a humanities professor at Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla.

Ms. Zufari said she had listened to punk music growing up in Arkansas and found "The Taqwacores" four years ago.

"Here was someone as frustrated with Islam as me," she said, "and he expressed it using bands I love, like the Dead Kennedys. It all came together."

The novel's Muslim characters include Rabeya, a riot girl who plays guitar onstage wearing a burqa and leads a group of men and women in prayer. There is also Fasiq, a pot-smoking skater, and Jehangir, a drunk.

Such acts — playing Western music, women leading prayer, men and women praying together, drinking, smoking — are considered haram, or forbidden, by millions of Muslims.

Mr. Muhammad Knight was born an Irish Catholic in upstate New York and converted to Islam as a teenager. He studied at a mosque in Pakistan but became disillusioned with Islam after learning about the sectarian battles after the death of Muhammad.

He said he wrote "The Taqwacores" to mend the rift between his being an observant Muslim and an angry American youth. He found validation in the life of Muhammad, who instructed people to ignore their leaders, destroy their petty deities and follow only Allah.

After reading the novel, many Muslims e-mailed Mr. Muhammad Knight, asking for directions to the next Muslim punk show. Told that no such bands existed, some of them created their own, with names like Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five.

One band, the Kominas, wrote a song called "Suicide Bomb the Gap," which became Muslim punk rock's first anthem.

"As Muslims, we're not being honest if we criticize the United States without first criticizing ourselves," said Mr. Kamel, 23, who grew up in a Syrian family in Chicago. He is lead singer of the band al-Thawra, "the Revolution" in Arabic.

For many young American Muslims, the merger of Islam and rebellion resonated.

Hanan Arzay, 15, is a daughter of Muslim immigrants from Morocco who lives in East Islip, N.Y. In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, pedestrians threw eggs and coffee cups at the van that transported her to a Muslim school, she said, and one person threw a wine bottle, shattering the van's window.

At school, her Koran teacher threw chalk at her for requesting literal translations of the holy book, Ms. Arzay said. After she was expelled from two Muslim schools, her uncle gave her "The Taqwacores."

"This book is my lifeline," Ms. Arzay said. "It saved my faith."


David Ahntholz for The New York Times

Noureen DeWulf and Bobby Naderi, both actors, with Jay Verkamp, center, the sound mixer for the film version of Mr. Knight's novel. The film was shot in Cleveland.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Mumbai Attacks Stun South Asian; North American Muslim Organizations Condemn Terror Attacks

From the Daily Times of Pakistan - November 30, 2008

Mumbai attacks stun South Asia

* Civic bodies condemn attacks, demand swift justice
* Denounce terrorism, term attacks crime against humanity

By Khalid Hasan


WASHINGTON: While the Mumbai terrorist attacks have stunned the large South Asian population living in the capital and its adjoining areas, a number of Pakistani-American organisations have issued strong condemnations of the outrage and expressed sympathy for those who lost their lives.

The Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) denounced the brutal attacks that ended in the loss of innocent human lives. The group said it believes that no cause justifies indiscriminate attacks against civilians and no religion endorses terrorism.

The APPNA said it views these despicable acts in the context of global terrorism and considers them a vicious effort to further destabilise the region. While offering its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the wounded and expressing its solidarity with the people of India, APPNA urged Indo-Pak physicians living in North America to join hands and work towards bringing peace and prosperity to South Asia.

Expressing its profound sense of grief over the loss of precious lives in Mumbai, the American Muslim Alliance has condemned the co-ordinated terror attacks on India's premier city. The group said, "We urge the authorities to bring the culprits to justice. We also urge all concerned communities and countries to help restore calm and work for the eradication of the root causes of this violence."

The Islamic Medical Association of North America also condemned the terror strikes in Mumbai in the 'strongest possible terms', while expressing solidarity with the families of the victims.

Terrorism: Dr Hafeezur Rehman, president of the association, said, "No religion breeds terrorism and terrorism serves no good cause. Such heinous acts are crimes against humanity and they should be countered with the most severe response. Those responsible for these crimes against humanity must be brought to justice swiftly. Islam considers the use of terrorism for any purpose totally unacceptable."

The Pakistani American Leadership Centre strongly condemned the Mumbai attacks, which have left nearly 200 dead and close to 370 wounded. "Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and their loved ones," it said in a statement. The group said it is encouraged by the immediate repudiation of the attacks by the Pakistani government and notes that Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had just concluded talks in India with his Indian counterpart on terrorism, trade, and the loosening of visa restrictions between the two countries.

The statement hoped that discussions aimed at normalising Pakistan-India relations would continue, demonstrating the resolve of both nations to achieve sustainable peace for the benefit of the citizens of both countries and the world.

"Faced with the indiscriminate violence of terrorism, we must find our common humanity and unite to act as one against such acts to bring peace, prosperity, and stability to the region," the group said.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

US: Saudi Has 'Long Way to Go' On Religious Tolerance

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

November 12, 2008

US: Saudi has 'long way to go' on religious tolerance

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House said Wednesday that Saudi King Abdullah knows that his country has "a long way to go" on religious tolerance and is trying to make progress on the issue.

One day before US President George W. Bush heads to a Saudi-sponsored UN conference on religious tolerance, spokeswoman Dana Perino was asked about Riyadh's ban on public practice of religions other than Islam.

"He welcomes the opportunity to have this event, and he believes that the king of Saudi Arabia has recognized that they have a long way to go and that he is trying to take some steps to get there," Perino told reporters.

The meeting, which aims to promote dialogue among the world's monotheistic religions, will be a follow-up to a similar conference in Madrid in July at King Abdullah's initiative.

Bush, who will address the meeting, sees it as "an opportunity for him to reaffirm his commitment to religious freedom and tolerance and the importance of people of all faiths coming together," said Perino.

Saud Arabia hosts Islam's holiest shrines and does not permit the public practice of religions other than Islam.

"This dialogue is a good way to bring people of all religions together. And you'll hear more from the president tomorrow," said Perino.

Race, Religion, and Proposition 8 - by Rev. Irene Monroe

Race, Religion, and Proposition 8 - by Rev. Irene Monroe

Our new presidential elect, the voting population of California's African-Americans, and unfortunate homophobia in churches has created a fuzzy rift between blacks and gays. It's time to stop creating scapegoats and get proactive.

Full article from the Advocate - http://advocate.com/exclusive_detail_ektid65681.asp

Friday, November 07, 2008

Among Young Muslims, Mixed Emotions on Obama

From the New York Times - November 7, 2008

Annie Tritt for The New York Times

Muslim students at New York University gathered on Wednesday to discuss the presidential election, among them Momtaz Yaqubie, Meherunnisa Jobaida, Sule Akoglu and Wamiq Chowdhury.

Among Young Muslims, Mixed Emotions on Obama

Published: November 7, 2008

For many, the excitement over Barack Obama's candidacy and election was muted by a sense of being marginalized politically.

Full article from the New York Times

Video: Islam and the Election

In a forum at New York University, Muslim students consider how Islam was used by the McCain and Obama campaigns.

Iranians Hope Obama Lives Up to His Name

From Time Magazine

An unidentified Iranian man wears a badge supporting President-elect Barack Obama in Tehran
An unidentified Iranian man wears a badge supporting President-elect Barack Obama in Tehran
Hasan Sarbakhshian / AP

Full article from Time.

Survey Shows High American Muslim Voter Turnout; 89% Picked Obama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Poll: 89 Percent of Muslim Voters Picked Obama
Survey shows high American Muslim voter turnout

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/7/2008) - The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) today released the results of a poll indicating that almost 90 percent of American Muslim voters picked Barack Obama in Tuesday's election. That survey of more than 600 American Muslim voters also indicated that just two percent of respondents cast their ballots for Sen. John McCain.

SEE: American Muslims Overwhelmingly Voted Democratic (Newsweek)

Poll Findings:

  • Of those who voted, 89 percent cast their ballot for Barack Obama.
  • Just two percent of respondents said they voted for John McCain.
  • Most of the respondents (78 percent) reside in ten states: Illinois, New York, Virginia, Michigan, California, Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
  • Ninety-five percent of respondents said they voted in the presidential election, whether at the polls or by absentee ballot. This is the highest American Muslim voter turnout ever reported.
  • Of those who voted, almost 14 percent said they did so for the first time.
  • One-fourth of respondents said they volunteered for or donated money to a political campaign in this election.
  • American Muslim voters are increasingly identifying themselves with the Democratic Party. More than two-thirds said they consider themselves Democrats. Most of the rest, or 29 percent, still consider themselves independent. Only four percent said they are Republicans.
  • More than two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents said the economy was the most important issue that affected their voting decision. This was followed by 16 percent who said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the most important. (In January 2008, a sample of 1000 Muslim voters rated education and civil rights as the top issues.)

For complete poll results, click here.

At a news conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., representatives of AMT and partner organizations shared the results of the poll. Speaking at the news conference were AMT Chairman Dr. Agha Saeed, Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF), and Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

"We are pleased to see such a high turnout by American Muslim voters, particularly in states that helped determine the outcome of the election. This shows that the American Muslim community is fully engaged in civic life," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

SEE: Muslims Drawn to Obama (Chicago Tribune)
SEE ALSO: Michigan Legislature Getting 1st Female Muslim (AP)

The poll, conducted by Genesis Research Associates, was commissioned by AMT. Random digit dialing was used to conduct phone interviews with individuals drawn from a large American Muslim voter database. A total of 637 Muslim voters were interviewed November 5 and 6, 2008. The margin of error is 3.87 percent.

AMT is an umbrella organization that includes: American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF), Muslim Student Association-National (MSA-N), Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), and United Muslims of America (UMA). AMT observer organizations include: Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and Islamic Educational Center of Orange County (IEC).

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rashida Tlaib, First Muslim Elected to Michigan Legislature

Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, is photographed outside the Michigan Capitol Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, in Lansing, Mich. Elected to the 12th District of the state House, Tlaib is the first Muslim woman ever to serve in the Michigan Legislature. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Michigan Legislature Getting 1st Female Muslim

From the Associated Press - November 6, 2008

By DAVID N. GOODMAN

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan is getting its first female Muslim legislator, thanks in large part to her Jewish boss, the incumbent.

Rashida Tlaib, a lawyer, community activist and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, easily won a House seat in Tuesday's general election after emerging from an eight-way Democratic primary with 44 percent of the vote in August.

Tlaib, 32, said she wouldn't have run but for the repeated urging of Democratic state Rep. Steve Tobocman, who is stepping down because of term limits. Once she decided to run, she threw herself into it, knocking on 8,000 doors and hitting each household twice.

Southeastern Michigan has about 300,000 people with roots in the Arab world, but few of them live in Tlaib's largely black and Hispanic district in southwest Detroit.

"We view her victory as a sign that Michigan Muslims are welcomed as a part of our state's multi-faith and multiethnic society," said Dawud Walid, Michigan director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

According to the American Muslim Alliance, only nine Muslims were serving in state legislatures nationwide before Tuesday's elections, and only one of them is a woman. There are two Muslim members of Congress — Democrats Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana.

The Michigan Legislature's first known Muslim member, James Karoub, served three terms in the state House in the 1960s.

Tobocman said he first met Tlaib about five years ago when she was working for the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, where she did advocacy work for immigrants.

"I was just really, really impressed," he said. When he later became majority floor leader and got another staff slot, he recruited Tlaib for the job. He said she brings a passion for social justice and the ability to work with people across the political aisle with very different outlooks.

"She's someone who just intuitively understood the process right off the bat," Tobocman said.

The election was only one of many firsts for Tlaib. The eldest of 14 children of a retired Ford Motor Co. worker and his wife, she was the first in her family to earn a high school diploma. She went on to finish college and law school while helping raise 13 siblings.

"My parents ... are amazing Americans," she said. "They never thought this would ever happen."

Smears Against Obama Energized Muslim Voters: Experts

From Reuters - November 6, 2008

By Michael Conlon

CHICAGO (Reuters) - False rumors that Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim or had ties to Islamic extremism angered Muslim-Americans, who overwhelming supported him in Tuesday's presidential election, experts said on Thursday.

Unpublished polling data indicated that the Democratic President-elect got somewhere between 67 percent and 90 percent of the Muslim vote, probably nearer the higher end, Ahmed Younis of Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, said in a telephone briefing.

A "watershed" moment for U.S. Muslims occurred in mid-October, he said, when former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who endorsed Obama, addressed the Obama-is-a-Muslim rumors which had circulated for months, and condemned the idea that this would be a slur.

"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" Powell asked on NBC's "Meet the Press." "The answer's no, that's not America ... Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion 'he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists.'"

Younis said that for U.S. Muslims Powell's comment capped a decades-long search "to become part and parcel of the nation."

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population of 305 million, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, though some believe that number is low.

Obama, whose father was Kenyan and whose mother was a white woman from Kansas, has the middle name Hussein, and lived for part of his childhood in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. He is a Christian.

Jen'nan Read, professor of sociology at Duke University, told the same briefing that not only did the whisper campaign about Obama being a closet Muslim fail, but that distribution in closely contested states of a video on Islamic extremism backfired.

VIDEO BACKFIRED

More than 20 million copies of a film called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" were included as advertising supplements in newspapers, distributed by a private group unaffiliated with Republican John McCain's campaign. The film features suicide bombers, children being trained with guns, and a Christian church said to have been defiled by Muslims.

Read said the video was a subtle attempt to link Obama to Islamic extremists but many of the states where it was handed out "were strongholds of Muslim American voters" who were prompted to work for Obama.

"It may actually have brought out voters for Obama," she said.

But beyond that issue, she added, Muslim voters looked a lot like many other American voters. They moved away from the Republican party, which they had backed heavily in 2000 but less so in 2004 -- and voted their concerns for issues such as the economy and a desire for a change in leadership.

Mukit Hossain, executive director of the Muslim American Political Action Committee, said at the briefing that support for Obama among Muslims "changed dramatically" in the last three to four weeks of the campaign "when people started calling Obama a terrorist" in the crowds at Republican rallies.

He also said a concern for erosion of civil liberties since the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, has driven Muslims away from the Republican party in recent years.

Although hard numbers are difficult to find, Hossain said from 2 million to 3 million Muslims were probably registered to vote in this year's election.

World Leaders' Quotes on Obama Election Win

LONDON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama won an extraordinary two-year
struggle for the White House, beating Republican John McCain and
becoming the first black president in U.S. history.

Following are quotes from world leaders:

YULIA TYMOSHENKO, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER

"Your victory is an inspiration for us. That which appeared impossible
has become possible."

FRANCO FRATTINI, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

"Europe which is celebrating (the victory of) Obama must know that
Europe be will be called on to be a producer of security and no longer
merely a consumer. I think Obama will rightly call on us to take our
responsibilities more seriously."

CELSO AMORIM, BRAZILIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

"In this case hope has won over prejudice -- this is good for the
United States and the world as a whole."

GRIGORY KARASIN, RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER

"The news we are receiving on the results of the American presidential
election shows that everyone has the right to hope for a freshening of
U.S. approaches to all the most complex issues, including foreign
policy and therefore relations with the Russian Federation as well."

HOSHIYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER

"I think you will hear a lot of discussion and goals and slogans
during the election campaigns. When there is a reality check I think
any U.S. president has to look very hard at the facts on the ground."

TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER

"Israel expects the close strategic cooperation with the new
administration, president and Congress will continue along with the
continued strengthening of the special and unshakeable special
relationship between the two countries."

MOHAMED MAHDI AKEF, LEADER OF THE EGYPTIAN MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, ONE OF
THE LARGEST ISLAMIST GROUPS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

"We congratulate (Obama) on the confidence of the American people in
him and we hope that he will change the policy of the United States
toward the Middle East and toward the crimes which are happening in
Afghanistan and Somalia, in other words that he adopts a just policy
that restores to America its natural position of respect for humankind
and democracy."

REV, FEDERICO LOMBARDI, POPE BENEDICT'S SPOKESMAN

"Believers are praying that God will enlighten him and help him in his
great responsibility, which is enormous because of the global
importance of the United States...We hope Obama can fulfil the
expectations and hopes that many have in him."

YOUSAF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER

"Your election marks a new chapter in the remarkable history of the
United States. For long, the ideas of democracy, liberty and freedom
espoused by the United States has been a source of inspiration...I
hope that under your dynamic leadership, the United States will
continue to be a source of global peace and new ideas for humanity."

MANMOHAN SINGH, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER

"Your extraordinary journey to the White House will inspire people not
only in your country but also around the world."

ALI AL-SADIG, SUDANESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN

"We don't expect any change through our previous experience with the
Democrats ... When it comes to foreign policy there is no difference
between the Republicans and the Democrats."

JAN PETER BALKENENDE, DUTCH PRIME MINISTER

"The necessity for cooperation between Europe and the United States is
bigger than ever. Only by close transatlantic cooperation can we face
the world's challenges."

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT

"With the world in turmoil and doubt, the American people, faithful to
the values that have always defined America's identity, have expressed
with force their faith in progress and the future. At a time when we
must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous
hope in France, in Europe and beyond."

HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT

"I applaud the American people for their great decision and I hope
that this new administration in the United States of America, and the
fact of the massive show of concern for human beings and lack of
interest in race and color while electing the president, will go a
long way in bringing the same values to the rest of world sooner or
later."

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

"Barack Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energizing politics with
his progressive values and his vision for the future. I know Barack
Obama and we share many values. We both have determination to show
that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult
times facing the global economy."

MWAI KIBAKI, KENYAN PRESIDENT

"We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your
victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the
world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya."

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT

"We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need
a new deal for a new world. I sincerely hope that with the leadership
of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with
Europe to drive this new deal. For the benefit of our societies, for
the benefit of the world."

HU JINTAO, CHINESE PRESIDENT

"The Chinese Government and I myself have always attached great
importance to China-U.S. relations. In the new historic era, I look
forward to working together with you to continuously strengthen
dialogue and exchanges between our two countries."

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR

"I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your historic victory in
the presidential election.

"The world faces significant challenges at the start of your term. I
am convinced that Europe and the United States will work closely and
in a spirit of mutual trust together to confront new dangers and risks
and will seize the opportunities presented by our global world."

TARO ASO, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER

"The Japan-U.S. alliance is key to Japanese diplomacy and it is the
foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. With
President-elect Obama, I will strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance
further and work toward resolving global issues such as the world
economy, terror and the environment."

KGALEMA MOTLANTHE, SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT

"Africa, which today stands proud of your achievements, can only but
look forward to a fruitful working relationship with you both at a
bilateral and multilateral levels in our endeavor to create a better
world for all who live in it."

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER

"I look forward to meeting with the President-elect so that we can
continue to strengthen the special bond that exists between Canada and
the United States."

KEVIN RUDD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER

"Senator Obama's message of hope is not just for America's future, it
is also a message of hope for the world as well. A world which is now
in many respects fearful for its future."

HELEN CLARK, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER

"Senator Obama will be taking office at a critical juncture. There are
many pressing challenges facing the international community, including
the global financial crisis and global warming. We look forward to
working closely with President-elect Obama and his team to address
these challenges."

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, INDONESIAN PRESIDENT

Indonesia especially hopes that the U.S., under new leadership, will
stand in the front and take real action to overcome the global
financial crisis, especially since the crisis was triggered by the
financial conditions in the U.S."

GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT

"We welcome his triumph in the same vein that we place the integrity
of the US electoral process and the choices made by the American
people in high regard. We likewise note the making of history with the
election of Senator Obama as the first African-American president of
the United States."

ALI AGHAMOHAMMADI, CLOSE AIDE TO IRAN'S MOST POWEFUL FIGURE

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI

"The president-elect has promised changes in policies. There is a
capacity for the improvement of ties between America and Iran if Obama
pursues his campaign promises, including not confronting other
countries as Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also concentrating
on America's state matters and removing the American people's
concerns."

SAEB EREKAT, AIDE TO PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS

"We hope the president-elect in the United States will stay the course
and would continue the U.S. engagement in the peace process without
delay. We hope the two-state vision would be transferred from a vision
to a realistic track immediately."

(Compiled by Asia Desk)

Christian and Muslim Leaders Hold Unprecedented Vatican Meetings; Vow to Combat Terror

From Reuters - November 6, 2008

 

Photo
 
 






By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

 

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Catholic and Muslim leaders at unprecedented Vatican meetings vowed on Thursday to work together to combat violence and terrorism, especially when carried out in God's name.

 

At the end of three days of meetings, the 58 scholars and leaders -- 29 from each side -- issued a 15-point final joint declaration which also included an appeal for the defense of minority religions.

 

The meetings came two years after the pope gave a speech hinting Islam was violent and irrational, sparking angry protests in the Middle East. The Muslims formed their group to refute that speech and seek better mutual understanding.

 

"We profess that Catholics and Muslims are called to be instruments of love and harmony among believers, and for humanity as a whole, renouncing any oppression, aggressive violence and terrorism, especially that committed in the name of religion, and upholding the principle of justice for all," the declaration said.

 

It also called for respect for religious minorities, adding that they should be "entitled to their own places of worship, and their founding figures and symbols they consider sacred should not be subjected to any form of mockery or ridicule."

 

The Vatican has long called for religious freedom for minority Christians in places such as Saudi Arabia and for an end to violence against Christians in Iraq.

 

The declaration's words about avoiding mockery or ridicule appeared to be a reference to events in 2006, when a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, sparking violent protests in the Islamic world.

 

Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict said Muslims and Christians shared moral values and should defend them together.

 

"There is a great and vast field in which we can act together in defending and promoting the moral values which are part of our common heritage," the German-born pope said.

 

"We should thus work together in promoting genuine respect for the dignity of the human person and fundamental human rights, even though our anthropological visions and our theologies justify this in different ways."

 

The Vatican has also participated in interfaith talks launched this year by Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, who will meet at the United Nations in New York next week with other heads of state to further promote his initiative.

 

These and other dialogues reflect a new urgency Muslim leaders have felt after the September 11 attacks, the "clash of civilizations" theory and the pope's 2006 speech in Regensburg showed a widening gap between the world's two largest faiths.

 

Benedict said the Catholic-Muslim Forum, the official name for this dialogue now set to take place every two years, was "now confidently taking its first steps."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

(Reuters) - In an unprecedented Vatican meeting, Pope Benedict urged Muslims to join Christians in defending their common moral values and respect for human rights despite their theological differences.

The late Pope John Paul pioneered better relations between Catholicism and Islam and was the first pope to visit a mosque, but they have been strained under Benedict.


Following are some highlights of Catholic-Muslim relations since Benedict's election in April 2005:


-- After his election, Pope Benedict says better relations with other faiths was a priority for him.


-- In June 2006, Benedict downgrades the Vatican interfaith dialogue department by turning it into a division of its culture ministry and posting its director as a papal ambassador abroad.


-- In September 2006, the pope delivers the Regensburg speech implying Islam is violent and irrational. After bloody protests in the Middle East, he regrets any misunderstanding his speech caused but does not apologize.


-- A group of 38 Muslim religious leaders and scholars writes to Benedict in October 2006 pointing out errors about Islam in his Regensburg speech. They receive no reply.


-- The Vatican's interfaith dialogue council is restored to former status as a separate department in June 2007.


-- In October 2007, the same Muslim group, now with 138 signatories, issues a manifesto called "A Common Word" inviting Christian churches to a dialogue based on what it said were the two faith's shared principles of love of God and neighbor.


-- Pope Benedict receives Saudi Arabian King Abdullah at the Vatican in November and discussed ways to improve dialogue.


-- Initially cautious, the Vatican finally accepts the Common Word invitation and agrees in March 2008 to set up the Catholic-Muslim Forum that meets every other year.


-- In April 2008, the pope baptizes Muslim-born Italian journalist Magdi Allam at Easter Mass. A Common Word spokesman sharply criticizes the prominence given this conversion.


-- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, attends interfaith conference hosted by King Abdullah in Madrid in July 2008.


-- A Common Word delegation visits Vatican in November 2008 for first session of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, including an audience with Pope Benedict. 

Muslims Delay Obama Endorsement

From the Worcester Telegram and Gazzette News

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Muslims delay Obama endorsement

WORCESTER—
On a day that Americans turned a new page in the country's history of race relations with the election of an African American to the presidency, Muslims were still riding the back of the political bus.

A national coalition of 12 Muslim American organizations known as the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections waited until the day before Election Day to publicly release its "indirect endorsement" of Barack Obama. While endorsements traditionally are timed to give them maximum exposure, an e-mail received by the Telegram & Gazette was deliberately sent so late that Mr. Obama's opponents had little time to react, according to Tahir Ali, national coordinator.

By making an "indirect endorsement," but keeping it low profile, Mr. Ali said, the organization avoided two pitfalls: "creating problems for the Obama campaign (and) accepting exclusion from the American mainstream," by not endorsing at all.

Islamic organizations were sensitive to the false assertions of the opponents of Mr. Obama, whose middle name is Hussein, that he is a Muslim. "The problem if we were to announce this endorsement earlier: it would have fallen in the wrong hands."

Rather than extolling Mr. Obama's virtues, the e-mail notes the "indirect AMT endorsement is embodied in the AMT-PAC scorecard … which gives 981 points to Obama and 291 to McCain." The scorecard weighs candidate positions on topics including civil rights, ending the war in Iraq, the economy and healthcare, said Mr. Ali, a Westboro resident.

"It's going to be used politically against" Mr. Obama, said Mr. Ali, a Westboro resident. He harkened to the 2000 election, when the American Muslim Alliance donated $50,000 to Hillary Clinton for her 2000 campaign to become a U.S. senator from New York.

Rick Lazio, her Republican opponent, called it blood money and Mrs. Clinton returned the donation, Mr. Ali recalled. While Muslims continued to support her Senate run, the humiliation was a factor in their support of Mr. Obama against her in the Democratic primary this year, he said.

There did not seem to be a similar backlash when Muslim organizations backed Gov. George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election and gave "qualified" support to Sen. John F. Kerry for president in 2004, Mr. Ali said.

The 7 million U.S. Muslims — with an estimated 4.9 million of them registered to vote — represent a potent political force, according to Mr. Ali, author of the book "The Muslim Vote Counts." Muslims know how to harness that power, he said.

In the 1996 presidential election 56 percent of Muslims voted Democrat and 32 percent cast Republican ballots, Mr. Ali said. But Muslim organizations rallied their people behind Mr. Bush, resulting in 80 percent of them backing the Texan in 2000 and possibly making the difference in Florida, where Mr. Bush won by fewer than 600 votes, Mr. Ali said.

Al Gore "completely ignored us," he said. Mr. Bush met with representatives of Muslim organizations and addressed the needs they raised, saying that American law at the time was being used to discriminate against Muslims and the United States should be "an honest broker" in the Middle East peace process, said Mr. Ali, a naturalized American born in Pakistan.

The Muslims came to regret their support. Mr. Ali, who remains a registered Republican, said the policies of the Bush regime after 2001 have been hostile to them.

Despite moderate Republicans like Colin Powell, Muslims face a "neocon-led nefarious Islamophobic nexus of bigotry" from others, he said. Mr. Ali said he told a Muslim crowd in the battleground state of Indiana this past weekend, where he engaged in a get-out-the-vote effort, "On one hand we have a party that is hostile to us, on the other we have a party that completely ignores us, and to sit out the presidential election will be political death for sure."

But yesterday, after Mr. Obama won the election — including the traditionally Republican state of Indiana by 26,163 votes — Mr. Ali called it "a proud moment. Now I can say I belong to a country where they can elect a minority.

"It shows America has come a long way. It has matured itself out of these bigotry issues. That Jim Crow mentality has gone."

The American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections is an umbrella organization representing American Muslim Alliance, American Muslims for Palestine, Council on American Islamic Relations , Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim Alliance in North America, Muslim American Society-Freedom Foundation, Muslim Student Association — National, Muslim Ummah of North America, and United Muslims of America. Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, Islamic Society of North America and Muslim Public Affairs Council are affiliated with AMT as observers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Statement on Prop. 8 by Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of CA

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California
google news commentA Change in Consciousness - 12 hours ago

The people who were born after the Apollo pictures of the Earth seen from space represent the first people who will fully inhabit a new consciousness. Those of us, like myself, who took this amazing picture in as someone already living on the Earth, had to learn this consciousness; for those born after me it is their birthright.

The recognition of the civil rights of lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual people is part of the broad shift in consciousness towards which we are moving. Same-sex marriage in California is an important vehicle in the on-going work of making sure all American citizens enjoy the same rights in civil society.

This shift in consciousness, including same-sex marriage,  is a move towards the good. I affirm this from a spiritual, religious point of view. As a Christian, I view the trajectory of history as moving us towards global reconciliation and global justice. The Gospels tell us that Jesus said that God's love is pervasive. He used the idea of rain and sunshine, both of which fall on all the world, irrespective of people's prejudices about who is deserving or who is not.

If Proposition 8 passes, which I hope it does not, those of us committed to civil rights for all will simply continue to hope, and continue to work. Perseverance, knowing that God continues to travel with those who are disenfranchised, is a path we know. I trust, however, that the great Californians with whom I live will continue their tradition of forging ahead towards what lies before our whole great country.

Video of Gertrude Baines Voting for Barack Obama

At 114, a daughter of former slaves votes for Obama

From the Los Angeles Times

Gertrude Baines is the world's oldest person of African descent. She cast her ballot at a convalescent facility near USC.

By Tami Abdollah

10:36 PM PST, November 4, 2008

Gertrude Baines' 114-year-old fingers wrapped lightly over the ballpoint pen as she bubbled in No. 18 on her ballot Tuesday. Her mouth curled up in a smile. A laugh escaped. The deed was done.

A daughter of former slaves, Baines had just voted for a black man to be president of the United States. "What's his name? I can't say it," she said shyly afterward. Those who helped her fill out the absentee ballot at a convalescent facility west of USC chimed in: "Barack Obama."

Baines is the world's oldest person of African descent, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates claims of extreme old age. She is the third-oldest person in the world, and the second-oldest in the United States after Edna Parker of Indiana, who is 115.

When Baines was born, Grover Cleveland was president and the U.S. flag had 44 stars. She grew up in Georgia during a time when black people were prevented from voting, discriminated against and subject to violent racism. In her lifetime, she has seen women gain the right to vote, and drastic changes to federal voting laws and to the Constitution -- and now, this.

"No, I didn't never think I'd live this long." she said.

The walls of Baines' room on the second floor of Western Convalescent Hospital are covered with birthday cards from presidents and officials from years gone by.

A picture of George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, is framed on the wall. Above it is a signed picture of Obama and City Councilman Bernard Parks, now running for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. On Baines' bed sit two teddy bears, one with an Obama pin on its right arm.

"Why am I voting for him? Because he's for the colored," Baines said, her language itself hearkening to a different time. "Sure it's good. That's the first one I know to be in there. Everybody's glad for colored men to be in there sometime."

On Tuesday, Baines sat in her wheelchair, a fuzzy red scarf around her neck, a red bonnet on her head and black slippers on her feet. She is hard of hearing and her memory comes and goes. She tends to refer to historical milestones by who was president at the time.

Aside from chronic arthritis, she is relatively healthy, mobile and attends church every Sunday in the hospital's dining room. That's where her pastor first told her a black man was running for president.

"It struck me," Baines said. "It struck a lot of people when they heard about a colored person" running. Baines looked over at her favorite assistant nurse, Cynthia Thompson. "What's that boy's name?"

"Jesse Jackson?" Thompson said.

"Yeah," Baines said with a laugh. "He tried, but he didn't make it."

"Why they want to keep having white? Why not let a colored person in some time?" Baines said. "I'm glad, I'm glad, I'm glad to get a colored man in there, and so many people are. I hope nothing don't happen to him."

This is only the second time Baines has voted. The last was for John F. Kennedy.

"And you see how they killed him. I was in Memphis, Tennessee, at that time, during the parade. Who was the next president they shot? Two of the boys . . ." she said, trailing off.

A registered Democrat, Baines said she was going to ask the hospital to remove Bush's picture from her wall. "They put him up there," she said disdainfully, waving her hand.

"We are all the same, skin dark, white, that's all," Baines said. She said Obama would be good for everybody. "Republicans don't care for the poor people," she said. "They want it all and they don't want the Democrats to have nothing."

Baines gets most of her election information from chats with hospital workers and friends. Her eyesight is poor, and it is not always easy for her to watch television.

On April 6, she will turn 115. Baines has been at the hospital for about nine years, and has outlived everyone in her family, including her daughter -- who died of typhoid at 18 -- and two nieces.

Baines said she spends much of her time sleeping and eating, but enjoys getting out in her wheelchair for a ride now and then, eating extra crispy bacon for breakfast, and watching "Jerry Springer" from time to time.

As lunch rolled around, Thompson wheeled Baines around to face the television as it cast images of Obama striding by to vote.

"Everybody says they think he's going to get it," she said. "And I hope he do. Maybe things will get better."

Shortly after 8 p.m., her nurse switched on the television and Baines witnessed Obama's victory. Baines smiled and said to the nurse: "I told you so." Then she went to sleep.

Oprah: "America did the right thing."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Elections Not a Good Time to be an American Muslim

Two Muslim women watch US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Minneapolis

October 28, 2008

Elections not a good time to be a American Muslim

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US Muslims are facing tough times fearful about growing suspicions of Islam amid false rumors that Democratic nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim and could have links to terrorists.

The Illinois senator, who on November 4 could become the first black American elected to the White House, is Christian. But as a son of a Kenyan father and American mother, he spent his childhood in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation.

"Not since the election of John Kennedy (a Catholic) in 1960 has the religious faith of a US presidential candidate generated so much distortion as the false claims generated by extremist critics that Senator Barack Obama, the candidate of the Democratic Party, is a stealth Muslim," said a joint petition by some 100 Islamic scholars.

"This is part of an islamophobic hate campaign that fuels prejudice against Americans who practice their Islamic faith and Muslims worldwide," the group who themselves "concerned scholars" stressed.

In September, a controversial DVD on Islam was circulated in Florida, adding fuel to the fire of the US election campaign.

The video, titled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" and released more than a year ago by a group called Clarion Fund, showed images of young children reciting appeals for jihad mixed with archival footage of Hitler Youths.

Already stigmatized in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Muslim community of the United States feels it has been ostracized during the current election campaign.

"The problem is there has been so many smears against Islam and Muslims that the candidates are very reluctant now to engage with Muslims for fear of coming under attack by their opponents," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights advocacy group.

"That's a very disturbing situation."

In June, Obama presented his apologies to two women wearing Islamic scarves who wanted to have their picture taken with the Democratic candidate but were hussled away by party activists.

And just a couple of weeks ago Republican nominee John McCain was forced to step in at a rally when a member of the audience suggested Obama was an Arab. McCain scoffed at the suggestion and referred to his opponent as the father of a "decent family."

"Fortunately, we have courageous individuals like Colin Powell who came up against that kind of thinking," said Hooper.

But "we are hoping that public officials and public leaders in our society would take up this call to reject islamophobia," he said. "We are still waiting for it to happen."

Powell, a Republican who was a member of the administration of President George W. Bush, came out recently in support of Obama's candidacy and also rejected islamophobic attacks.

"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" Powell asked rhetorically. "The answer's no. Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated (with) terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

But the prejudices remain strong. A president of a Republican club in New Mexico, Macia Stirman, was forced to resign recently after declaring that she could not understand why people wanted to put a Muslim to the White House.

Such charges appear to have an effect at least on a small portion of the electorate.

A survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released on October 19 showed that when asked about Obama's religious beliefs, a small but consistent minority of voters, 12 percent, continue to say that the Democratic nominee is a Muslim.

This percentage has changed little since September, when 13 percent said that about Obama, the survey showed.

Shiite and Sunni imams from the Detroit area meet at the House of Wisdom mosque


U.S. Muslim Voters are Election-Year Outcasts

From the Associated Press

U.S. Muslim voters are election-year outcasts

By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer
Article Date: Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lepers. Untouchables. Politically radioactive.

These are ways American Muslims describe their status in an election year when Barack Obama's opponents are spreading rumors that he is Muslim, when he is Christian, and linking him to terrorists.

So when Colin Powell, a Republican, condemned using Muslim as a smear — a tactic he said members of his own party allowed — there was an outpouring of gratitude and relief from American Muslims.

"That speech really came out of left field and really shocked us," said Wajahat Ali, 27, an attorney and playwright from Fremont, Calif. "The sense is that it's about time. He said something that needed to be said."

The retired general, who was President Bush's first secretary of state, made the comments on NBC's "Meet the Press," as he broke with his party to endorse the Democratic nominee for president. Powell noted in last Sunday's broadcast that Republican John McCain did not spread rumors about Obama's faith, but Powell said he was "troubled" that others did.

"The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America," Powell said. "Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated (with) terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

Powell said he felt especially strongly about the rumors because of a photo he saw in The New Yorker magazine of the mother of a Muslim soldier in Arlington Cemetery embracing her son's grave, which was marked with a Muslim crescent and star. The solider, Kareem R. Khan of New Jersey, was 20 when he was killed in Iraq.

"We American Muslims have talked about our patriotism and the heroism of some American Muslims till we were blue in the face, and neither the media nor the people listen," said Seeme Hasan, a Pueblo, Colo., Republican whose family has given tens of thousands of dollars to the GOP.

"Gen. Powell made people listen and at a very humane level," said Hasan, who is backing McCain. "More people in leadership positions need to say this and recognize this — that American Muslims have worked very hard to fight this war on terror."

The inaccurate claims that Obama is secretly Muslim started as soon as he was mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. There were false rumors that he was educated at a radical Islamic school as a child in Indonesia and that he was sworn into the Senate on the Quran.

His opponents emphasized his middle name — Hussein — and circulated a photo of him wearing traditional tribal garb on a 2006 visit to Somalia.

Kari Ansari, a mother of three from Villa Park, Ill., said the allegations upset her 10-year-old son.

"It sort of made him feel like, 'If they won't elect him president just for trying on Muslim clothes, they will never elect me because I'm a real Muslim,'" said Ansari, a founder of America's Muslim Family, a quarterly magazine. "That's heartbreaking for us as Muslim parents."

Obama has fought the claims in speeches and on a campaign Web site dedicated to debunking inaccuracies about him. But the belief persists.

A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found 12 percent of voters believed the Illinois senator is Muslim. That poll was released Tuesday — coincidentally, the same day the head of a New Mexico Republican women's group called Obama a "Muslim socialist" and said "Muslims are our enemies." County and GOP officials condemned the statements.

"Muslims feel jaded by the 2008 election precisely because they see the smearing of their identity," Ali said. "Muslim or Arab is seen as a scarlet letter, political leprosy, kryptonite. There is that taint there. We're the lowest of the low."

The experience isn't entirely new for American Muslims, who have struggled for acceptance in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The major parties have quietly courted them for years, yet presidential candidates have refused to publicly associate with them, leaders say.

The exact number of U.S. Muslim voters is not known. But many are wealthy professionals who came to the country to earn graduate degrees in engineering, medicine and business. They settled in significant numbers in key states including Michigan and Florida.

Presidential candidates "are not willing to have their photo taken, they don't meet with Muslim organizations, and they shy away from any issue that may link them to the Muslim community," said Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a Los Angeles advocacy group leading a national Muslim voter registration campaign.

"We're treated as untouchables in politics," al-Marayati said.

Yet, this year has been especially painful because of the attacks on Obama.

Hesham Hassaballa, a physician and author from Chicago, said this month he formally left the GOP, partly because of the allegations.

Like many other Muslims, Hassaballa had joined the Republican Party because of its small-government philosophy, social conservatism and pledge to limit taxes. In 2000, he supported McCain in the primaries, then Bush in the final election. Four years later, he backed Democrat John Kerry for president, partly to protest Bush policies on detaining and interrogating terror suspects, but remained Republican.

Now, he says the party has abandoned its principles.

"The McCain of 2008 is not the McCain of 2000," Hassaballa said. "With the way the campaign has been going and a lot of the anti-Muslim rhetoric, just how the McCain campaign has conducted itself, just really turned me off."

The McCain campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

In defending himself, Obama has rejected the idea that being called Muslim is an insult. His campaign also has an outreach coordinator to the Muslim community.

Some American Muslims said they wished the Illinois senator would say more forcefully that their religion should not be used as a smear, but said they understood that it could damage his presidential bid in this political climate.

"I don't think there could have been any better messenger than Colin Powell, being someone who is a well-respected Republican, a former secretary of state and an army general," said Arsalan Iftikhar, a Washington, D.C., civil rights lawyer and writer who supports Obama. "American Muslims feel slightly politically radioactive at this time. This sends a resounding message of inclusiveness."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Offensive or Tongue-in-Cheek?



The July 21 cover of the New Yorker magazine is causing quite a stir!!  Both the Obama and the McCain campaign agree that the picture is offensive!!  The New Yorker magazine defends its decision and says the illustration is satire.

Obama is wearing a tunic and a turban.  Michelle is wearing army clothes, has an AK-47 and an afro, and the American flag is burning in their fire place.  I think that's a picture of Osama bin Laden also above the mantle and ofcourse they're doing their famous "bump."

Offensive or just tongue-in-cheek?  What do you think?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Moment Gonna Make You Sweat | Madonna at the Roseland Ballroom « - T Magazine - New York Times Blog

She is SOOO HOT - and she's approaching 50!! Unbelievable!!

From the NY Times - May 1, 2008


Full article here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tired and Sad

Feeling really tired this week.  LONG flights to and from Portland, but a really cool trip.  More on that later.

In the mean time, I'm missing John-Paul.  We'll be literally criss-crossing each other for the next couple of weeks - with my speaking engagements and his work travel.  UGH!

Hopefully we'll get to spend some QT time in May / June.

Off to bed...

Friday, March 21, 2008

In Case You're Wondering About the Damage in Atlanta

Atlanta tornado scored direct hit on at least one bedside drawer

March 20th, 2008 

dildo.jpg

And if you didn't pick it up already, note the dildo on the bottom center. ;-)  YIKES!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Message to Ms. Kern

Hi folks,

I sent this to Ms. Kern's office today. :-)

Please feel free to forward on to others.

Ms. Kern's legislative office's website is located here.
The YouTube clip of her wonderful comments can be found here.
YouTube clip of Ellen calling Rep. Sally Kern is here.

Enjoy!

-Faisal

March 17, 2008

Dear Rep. Kern,

My name is Faisal Alam and I am perhaps your worst nightmare; I am a faithful Muslim and a practicing homosexual.  EEKS!  That's right Ms. Kern, I am not only THE biggest threat to our nation (as a homosexual), but I am also a follower of Islam (which you also believe to be a big threat).

I'm sorry to disappoint you however - I don't have any ambition to join my local city council and (so far), I don't have any plans of denouncing my sexuality or becoming an apostate by leaving Islam.

I've lived in the United States for more than 20 years, and as far as I know, I haven't spread my sexuality to any one unbeknownst to me.  I'm afraid I did come here legally, and my hard-earned income HAS been contributed to many, many homosexual organizations.  Fortunately, this money has not been spent on any illegal or terrorist activities.

By the way, I am really hoping that you will publicize the society that has totally embraced homosexuality - because I'm really dieing to visit.  Oh, did I mention that I've been to Oklahoma several times in my life; in fact two of my closest friends live in Oklahoma.  You may even know them... but shhhh.... don't tell any one.... because they are homosexual!

Ms. Kern - do you think that *I* am part of the homosexual agenda?? Because all my life I have only strived to achieve one thing - to be recognized and honored for all my homosexual activism.  You see, the homosexual agenda is written every year in a big office in Washington DC.  No one really knows where it is, but they say that once you've practiced homosexuality for a long time, you will soon be listed on the homosexual agenda and be recognized for your outstanding work.  If you happen to know any one who is a member of this secret society please do let me know.

I also wanted to say that I'm really sorry your email has been jammed; and maybe you should get your phone number unlisted, so you don't get hate-mongering queers calling you at all hours of the night.  Trust me, I know how rude and belligerent they can be.

The next time I'm in Oklahoma, I'll definitely have to drop by and introduce myself.  I wanted you to see for yourself how two of the biggest threats to our nation look like - all wrapped up in one person. *smile*.  I promise that I won't blow up or any thing... and I'll be sure to leave my homosexual propaganda at home. 

I look forward to meeting you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Faisal Alam
not only a homosexual, but a follower of Islam as well.

P.S. Did the 2nd graders receive the books (about two daddies) I sent a while back?  Do let me know!
P.S.S. Did you get Ellen's message?  She tried calling you a few times. 
P.S.S.S. Remind me to tell you about how I got into a public government school system.

Rep. Sally Kern's Comments on Homosexuality, Islam and Terrorism

Ellen Calls Sally Kern

Gotta love Ellen!

Wanda Sykes on Ellen

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Jihad for Love Premiers in Germany


Sandi DuBowski & Parvez Sharma after the screening of A Jihad for Love in Berlin - February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Our Global World


I continue to be fascinated by our "global village."  A Jihad for Love, the first-ever full-feature documentary about LGBT Muslims had its Australian debut in Sydney.  Parvez Sharma and Sandi Dubowski were both there, but guess who else showed up?  My friend Asif from Toronto and Ubaid from London.  I just saw pictures on Asif's facebook page.  I was like WHAT?? What in the world are the two of you doing there?? And why in the world am *I* not there... hehe...

So I'm totally jealous.  Not only where they both there, but they got to hang out with another friend from London - Azeem - who now lives in Sydney.  Crazy world we live in no??  Its sooo cool that these folks all met through the queer Muslim network / grapevine... we've been able to create so many new friendships... I feel lucky and grateful knowing so many wonderful people in different parts of the world.

As internet access and technology grow, so does the ability of more and more queer Muslims and other marginalized communities - to speak out - reach out - and spread the truth about their lives...

Our Global World... Amazing!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bush Swings His Hips to Rare Acclaim in Africa

OMG – He TOTALLY looks like he’s two-stepping!!  To all villages in Texas – do a head count, cause an idiot is on the loose!

Video: Bush swings his hips to rare acclaim in Africa

Christian Fundamentalists Anyone?

It astonishes me that people continue to call Muslims “extremists” and “fundamentalists” when it is CLEAR that extreme ideologies do NOT only exist in Islam.

Introducing – the Westboro Church!

From the Associated Press - February 26, 2008

Westboro Church Pickets Funeral of Slain College Student

More than 3,000 mourners gathered Saturday night to remember a 19-year-old college student believed killed by a serial rapist as a loving, caring woman with many friends and a winning personality.

Brianna Denison's body was found in a Reno field on February 15. Police said she was abducted January 20 and strangled by a man linked to two earlier attacks on the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Her cousin, Spencer Terry, said Denison's spirit would continue to live in the hearts of friends and family.

''Could anybody have asked for a prettier face and a more beautiful soul? I don't think so,'' Terry said.

Friend Danielle DeTomaso said Denison embraced all kinds of people.

''She knew people from all walks of life,'' DeTomaso said. ''She was the glue that held all of us together.''

Denison's aunt, Lauren Denison, reminded the crowd at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center that ''we still have a job to do: bring Brianna's killer to justice.''

The sophomore at Santa Barbara City College in California was visiting her hometown over winter break when she was abducted while she slept on a couch in a friend's home just off the Reno campus.

Outside the memorial service several members of a fundamentalist Kansas church faced off against more than 150 counterdemonstrators.

The standoff, which occurred during a fierce snowstorm, ended peacefully when police escorted the three protesters associated with the Westboro Baptist Church away from the convention center, Sgt. Chris Lange said.

''There were a couple of eggs thrown at them and that's about it,'' Lange said.

Members of the Topeka, Kan., church also picket military funerals out of a belief that the Iraq war is a punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. Last month the church announced it would protest the service for Denison because it believes God hates Reno.

Church officials said they targeted the city because local law enforcement officers failed to protect church members who picketed a January 26 memorial service there for a soldier who was killed in Iraq.

On Saturday the three protesters waved placards reading ''Pray for More Dead Kids,'' ''Don't Worship the Dead,'' and ''God Sent the Killer.''

Counterdemonstrators said they strongly disapprove of the church's message and tactic of picketing outside memorial services.

''For them to come out and target tragedies like this, I don't think it's right,'' Greg Bailor Jr. said. ''There's enough emotions as it is.'' (AP)

Remembering Larry King

The killing of a 15 year old Larry King has shocked the LGBT community. The story of his death is incredibly sad and only further illustrates the need for education and dialogue on issues of sexuality and gender identity within our school system and within our society as a whole.

A website created by Larry’s family has a forum in which hundreds of people from around the world have written messages of support, sadness and shock.

This poem, written by a student at Larry’s school brought tears to my eyes. I wanted to share it with folks.

Maybe within my our lifetime we can see a future where every child is welcomed and accepted for who they are!

Remember Larry

The seed

God grew a garden and planted a seed
And ever so often had to pull out a weed
He cared for that seed oh so much
He knew every hair on its head and such
For this seed was a child who would love and laugh
But the love of a family he’d get only half
He would be a great child but adopted while young
Growing up with maybe your daughter or son
He’d care for the animals, birds, and bugs
If anyone was sad he’d give them hugs
He’d only use the kindest and softest tone
But god knew a secret that to us was unknown
This seeds life was short and would die when still young
But while still alive this seed would have fun
This seeds name was Larry and he was my good friend
And he stayed like that, all the way till the end
Seven pink petals has grown from this seed
It gave seven organs seven people would need
This horrible thing that gave us all strife
Has given seven people the means for there life

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blogs and more blogs...

wow - sept. 2005 since my last post... i've been trying to figure out what sort of blog i want to create.... part of me wants to start a political blog where i talk about stuff, my analysis, etc... the other part wants it to be more fun and humorous... i did start my queerific world - but when i post something serious on there, it seems out of my place - so i think i'm going to do a combo... my queerific world - queer muslim proud - ... hmm... but what should i call it? all these questions... hmmm.. maybe i should do my homework instead! procrastination... gotta love it!