Religion and Secularism: Debate or just Islamophobia?

Today, April 5th, Nicholas Sarkozy’s ruling party will hold a national debate on the role of religion and secularism in France. Even though it is being framed as a discussion on France’s doctrine of laïcité (secularism), many believe that it is singling out Islam. Among the topics that will be examined in the debate is overcrowding in mosques, serving halal meat in school cafeterias, and whether patients should be allowed to request doctors of a certain gender.

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American Dervish

Aired February 07, 2012 | Visit the WPR Page | Download the Show

Milwaukee-born writer Ayad Akhtar’s debut novel, American Dervish, is a coming-of-age tale with a twist. As he tells the story of Pakistani-American teenager, Hayat Shah, Akhtar presents a complex and deeply personal portrayal of what it means to grow up Muslim in America.

Regions & Themes


Latin America

Islam in Brazil

Maria Moreira, Islam For Today

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. However, in Latin America, and specifically in Brazil, this is not the case. Why? Maria Moreira, a Brazilian convert who teaches at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, examined the history and current state of the Muslim community in Latin America’s largest country. She found two main reasons for the low conversion rate.

The first is the lack of trust and understanding by Brazil’s Arab-Muslim community. The new converts were treated more as “intruders” to the community. They “have to fight alone against the criticism of his/her family, friends, the Brazilian society and worst: fight against the criticism of their own fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. The feeling of isolation leads some to abandon Islam after a while.” The second reason is the shortage of good books and other resources about Islam in the Portuguese language. “The other Latin people are Spanish speakers and can depend on good works translated to Spanish. However, Brazilians are the only Portuguese speakers among Latinos and this fact increases their difficulties.” Continue reading