Being Banned: An Inside Islam recap


The Islamic Center is Murfreesboro, TN. Photo: tennessean.com

The Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is in the news again. The last time Inside Islam covered the center, it had been delayed on a procedural technicality. Most recently, a federal judge overruled that decision, and the center is expected to open sometime this month, hopefully in time for Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

This development gives us an opportunity to reflect on similar stories that we have covered over the years. Rather than an isolated case of pushback against Islam, the Murfreesboro debate is just one example of attempts to ban or otherwise stifle expressions of faith. As I went through the Inside Islam archives, it really struck me what a monumental torrent of hate and Islamophobia Muslims are up against.

Continue reading

Islam in France


Praying in the streets was banned in France in 2011. Photo: Bbc.co.uk

A recent article in National Geographic speculates that Marseilles may become the first city in Europe with a majority Muslim population. Official statistics are unavailable, but experts estimate that about 30 percent of the southeastern French city is Muslim.

Although the city is known for its tolerance, France as a whole is not, especially when it comes to its Muslim population. The country is home to about 6 million Muslims (the largest number in Western Europe), and is known for its bans on burqas, niqab, and for considering banning halal meat. Praying in the streets was also banned in 2011. At the end of 2011, the French Council of the Muslim Faith, an umbrella organization for various Muslim groups, released a study saying Islamophobia is on the rise in the country.

I spoke with John Bowen, Professor of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis about Islam in France. Bowen is the author of Can Islam be French? Pluralism and Pragmatism in a Secularist State. Continue reading

Banning Halal Meat?

Muslims in the United Kingdom have a new challenge facing them. Following attempts by other European nations like France, some British politicians have called for a ban on any meat that comes from an animal which has not been stunned before slaughter. Thus, the ban affects halal (sometimes also called dhabiha or zabiha) and kosher meats.

According to supporters of the ban, the manner in which Muslims and Jews traditionally slaughter is more painful to the animal than stunning the animal first and then slaughtering it. As in the Jewish tradition, Muslims have a particular manner in which they must slaughter an animal. The animal’s throat is slit to induce quick bleeding to reduce suffering. In order to do this, Muslims are instructed to make sure that the knife is sharpened. Also, in order to be as humane as possible, the knife should not be sharpened in front of any animals and one animal should not be slaughtered in front of another. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

More Bans on the Face Veil

Poster in Italy to ban the niqab and burqa

Poster in Italy to ban the niqab and burqa

The last Inside Islam radio show examined Islamic Feminism. The two guests, Sumbul Ali-Karamali and Areej Zufari, talked about the global movement where Muslim women are going back to the Qur’an to assert their rights. In other words, they are calling for a re-reading of the Qur’an that reflects its true attitude towards the plight of women, where both women and men are addressed by God as human beings. Both Ali-Karamali and Zufari highlighted that what was interesting about this new movement is how inclusive it is and how women’s voices are central to the project. Continue reading

Ban the Burqa in France?

Last July, I wrote about President Nicholas Sarkozy’s comments on the burqa. Since then, a number of steps have been taken towards a partial ban on the burqa that included setting up a panel to discuss the issue as well as a national debate on French identity.

Over the last six months, the panel has been studying the burqa in France and a few weeks ago released its recommendations to prohibit women who wear the burqa from using any public services like schools, hospitals, and public transportation. The panel determined that the burqa is not compatible with the ideals of secularism and French values. Moreover, proponents of a ban assert that the burqa oppresses women and represents a growing faction of radical Muslims.  Opponents of the ban argue that it strips Muslim women of the personal liberties they are guaranteed in France and will in fact lead to further isolating these women. Continue reading

France and Veiling

burqa

Photo from BNP News

How does a Muslim woman really assert her rights? This seems to be an underlying question in many discussions on Islam worldwide and touches on issues of choice and self-determination. However, questions like this can never be answered in one way because of the diversity of Muslim communities that cannot be defined by one culture, one outlook, one interpretation of faith, or one context. Not only must we address this reality, we must truly engage it and work with the consequences. Although a topic that seems so overly debated, Muslim women’s bodies continue to be a part of different political landscapes. The veil–along with all its numerous manifestations–needs to be critically assessed by women (enough discussions by men) and appropriated in a way to represent what they choose about their faith. Continue reading

Islamophonic Podcast

Host of the award-winning podcast Islamophonic and journalist for the Guardian UK Riazat Butt takes a critical and witty look at the Muslim community beginning at home in her native Great Britain. Each month, the program deals with complex cultural and political issues in the news by tackling topics like marriage, extremism, secular democracy, and others.

Riazat refrains from making overarching conclusions about Islam without buffering them with humor. Also, the programs rarely deal with spiritual matters. Instead, Islamophonic tackles the difficult task of reporting the individual stories of living in Muslim world.

Continue reading

Heavy Metal Bands from Across the Globe

We only had an hour on yesterday’s Here on Earth show on heavy metal and Islam. That’s not enough time to cover a wide range of innovative music from around the world, some of which we just couldn’t fit all into the program. Dan, a producer for the show and part of the Inside Islam team, collected a series of videos to share with readers today.

More heavy metal bands after the break…

Continue reading