The World Responds to Obama’s Inaugural Address

As a follow-up to our recent program about Reaching out to the Muslim World, we offer the following perspectives from around the globe. If you have any others to add, please send them along!

President Obama and the Muslim World Reading List

Do you have a blog post or article you think should be added to this? Send us an email with the link or comment below and we’ll update the post. What do you think about the Obama presidency and its relations with the Muslim World so far? Is it too soon to tell? Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment below.

President Obama on Al-Arabiya

A while back on the Inside Islam radio series, host Jean Feraca repeated Colin Powell’s question, “What’s wrong with being Muslim?” During his campaign, Barack Obama refrained from addressing this question in relation to his own roots. Now as president, Obama is beginning to outline his administration’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world. In a television interview on Al-Arabiya, an Arab news station, he discussed America’s next steps in the Muslim world and said:

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Part 2 of the interview is included below.

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Halal Music in Hip-Hop

Rapper Lupe Fiasco

Rapper Lupe Fiasco

Earlier this month, in a post about the “East Meets West Series” on To The Best of Our Knowledge, you may have heard an interview with rapper Lupe Fiasco in the segment “Encountering Islam.” The interview begins by introducing his album title “Food and Liquor” and pointing out that it relates to the concept of halal, or what is permissible in Islam. He makes it clear, however, that his intention is not to be “the poster boy” of Islam, but to express through music how being Muslim added depth and meaning to his life. For him, the music was first influenced by his own memories of growing up in a Muslim family. Later, as an adult, the music was further influenced by hip-hop culture.

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Guests on Reaching out to the Muslim World

Join Jean Feraca and the following guests on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders on January 22 to discuss reaching out to the Muslim world.

Uli Schamiloglu – Chair of UW-Madison’s Middle East Studies Program and Professor of Turkic and Central Eurasian Studies in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia.

Abdulkader Sinno – Professor of Political Science, Indiana University, author of Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond (Cornell U Press, 2008) and editor of Muslims in Western Politics (Indiana University Press, 2008).

Hady Amr – Director, Brookings Doha Center; Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Zeyno Baran, director of the Center for Eurasian Policy at the Hudson Institute.

Updated January 22, 2009: Click here to listen to “Reaching out to the Muslim World,” hear full pre-recorded interviews with the guests, and get additional information on the topic.

US and the Muslim World

Coming up on the next Inside Islam radio show: Reaching out to the Muslim World.

On January 20, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. What is the state of relations between the United States and the Muslim world? How can the new president alter the course of the Bush administration and reach out to Muslims? What are the chances that dialogue and diplomacy will take precedence over a call to arms? What steps do Muslims think the new president should take to repair damages and rebuild trust?

Do you have any other questions you would like to discuss about US relations with the Muslim world at this beginning of a new era? Share your thoughts on these topics below and then join us on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders Thursday, January 22 at 3:00pm to discuss them.

Confusion At Halal-TV

Muslim Talk Show Halal-TV (Image via SVT)

Muslim Talk Show Halal-TV (Image via SVT, Swedish State Television)

Halal-TV, a Swedish talk show hosted by three Muslim women, was the center of a great deal of controversy and confusion recently, resulting from the decision by two of the hosts not to shake hands with a male guest. The guest at the center of the storm was Carl Hamilton, a newspaper columnist for Aftonbladet. Hamilton reacted to the perceived slight with hostility and anger, arguing that shaking his hand was the polite thing to do. According to the transcript of the incident (available in Swedish), Hamilton told host Khadiga El-Khabiry at one point, “The problem is that you come here and don’t want to shake hands, so it’s actually you who are the problem.” It’s important to note here that El-Khabiry was actually born in Sweden.

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The Taqwacores and Punk Islam

The Taqwacores, a novel about the Muslim punk scene.

The Taqwacores, a novel about the Muslim punk scene.

A group of Muslim-American youth play punk music and live together in The Taqwacores, by Michael Muhammad Knight. The book has inspired Muslim youth to rethink their faith in terms of their individual experiences, much as the author himself did. According to Guardian UK reporter Brian Whitaker in “Punk Muslims,”  Knight wrote The Taqwacores at the age of 19, after converting to Islam and studying in Pakistan for a year. When he returned to America, he started writing in a local mosque and even stayed through the night so he could be there alone. When the novel was complete, he made xerox copies and sold them out of the trunk of a car. The book caught on and created a community and popular following in the US.

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Adultery, Porn Videos, and Moral Authority in Iran

Video of an Iranian cleric apparently committing adultery leaked online and was spread and popularized by a social bookmark site in Iran. A hidden camera was recording evidence as part of an investigation by the Intelligence Ministry according to a Blogger for The Daily Beast Telmah Parsa in “Iran’s Hottest Porn Video.”

The cleric was apparently a member of the government-run Friday Prayers Committee in Hamadan province. Semi-official news sites tried to downplay the impact of the video, which leaked out of an Intelligence Ministry investigation. But their reports did acknowledge that the man involved was a married cleric, and that the video depicts the consummation of an unlawful affair.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this video, not the titillating and voyeuristic elements, but what it might say about the interaction between interpersonal relationships and religion in Iran and elsewhere. Does this controversy change your opinion at all? Is this just another example of government-level hypocrisy that we see all over the world or does it have some special meaning in the context of Iran?

Altmuslim: Global Perspectives on Muslim Life, Politics, & Culture

The blog altmuslim is dedicated to advancing a progressive image of Muslims in the media and throughout the world, an objective shared by us here at Inside Islam. Founder and Editor-in-Chief Shahed Amanulla created the site after the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US. His site still has the same aim now that it did then: to counteract the negative representation of Islam in mainstream media reports, where the dominant image is of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. Seven years later, with associate editors based in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, as well as contributors from around the world, altmuslim hosts a diverse Muslim community online. Shahed and his team continue to present an alternative image for Muslim politicians, intellectuals, comedians, and other prominent figures in the public eye.

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Muslim Women in Comic Books

Noora, The Light

Noora, The Light

Blogger Jehanzeb Dar’s critique of the depiction of Muslim women in comic books provides an insightful continuation to broader discussions of depictions of these women in other venues, such as the showcase of portraits of Muslim women I wrote about in November here on Inside Islam. His two-part essay entitled “Female, Muslim, and Mutant” has been featured on prominent Muslim and non-Muslim blogs alike. You can find his commentary on Racialicious and Muslimah Media Watch. The series also received the Best Post or Series Award in The 2007 Brass Crescent Awards last month.

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