Last week, Republican presidential contender Herman Cain badly stumbled at an editorial meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, displaying his limited knowledge of the current situation in Libya. His campaign blamed the gaffe on 4 hours of sleep and an ambiguous question from reporters. A few days later, Cain asked the media in a rhetorical manner, “Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go, do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be a part of the government?” For the record, the Taliban has never been associated with Gadhafi or Libya.
In light of the news today of the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a recently naturalized US citizen of Pakistani descent, who is charged with attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square, the last Inside Islam radio show on Jihad becomes even more timely. Jean spoke with Michael Bonner and Faisal Devji on the meanings of jihad and how many who claim to be jihadists are actually operating outside of Islamic law. Devji, in particular, emphasized that those involved in violent operations are acting as individuals, unlike in the tradition where jihad is a collective activity ordered by a leader like a caliph. Moreover, these individuals are not necessarily acting out of religious motivations, although they use religious discourse as the framework, but out of ethical reasons, like problems with US foreign policy.
After hearing the news last night about the arrest of Shahzad, I was immediately reminded of Devji’s argument and like many others extremely frustrated by the damage these acts do to the image of Islam and to the vast majority of other Muslims who do not condone these acts. In the media, not enough is done to highlight that these acts do not represent Islam or the loyalty of Muslim Americans just as the Hutaree militia does not represent Christianity. It is very frustrating to me the conspicuous difference in coverage between this story and the Hutaree militia plot. For example, it is disconcerting that there so much focus on his US citizenship when there did not seem to be the same on focus on the citizenship of the 9 Hutaree militia members. Moreover, since he is a Muslim, it becomes acceptable to call it terrorism while with the Hutaree, Christians, it is extremism. Continue reading
The next Inside Islam radio show, this Thursday, April 29th, will focus on jihad. Michael Bonner, author of Jihad In Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice,and Faisal Devji, author of Landscapes fo the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity will join the program to discuss the concept of jihad, its history, and its manifestations in the world today. Continue reading
The issue of racial profiling to stop terrorist attacks was made more complicated last week when the arrest of Colleen LaRose was made public and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez was arrested. LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez, both American, were arrested for being involved in a plot to kill the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks for his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007.
The cases of LaRose, who called herself “Jihad Jane,” and Paulin-Ramirez, dubbed “Jihad Jamie” by the media, raise the issue of how effective racial profiling is. Both women are Americans who had converted to Islam and allegedly planned to kill Vilks. The fact that these two women do not fit the stereotypical profile of a terrorist underscores the fact that there really is not one definition. We saw this also with Joseph Stack’s attack on the IRS building. Continue reading
It isn’t easy to be gay and Muslim. In the same week that Iowa ruled on gay marriage and Vermont voted on it, The New York Times is reporting that gays are risking murder in Iraq by coming out. The headline reports:
In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word ‘pervert’ in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies.
The article went on to say that the speculation is that these young men were killed by family members. Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders will be following the story in our live show today at 3 pm central called Jihad for Love.
The documentary film A Jihad for Love follows the lives of gay and lesbian Muslims living in places around the world, including Egypt, Iran, India, Turkey, Canada, and France. The film follows these individuals in underground subcultures for homosexual communities in Muslim countries and as immigrants to the West where their lifestyles are more acceptable in public. The main storyline of the film centers on a homosexual Imam from South Africa, Muhsin Hendricks, who was once partnered with a woman in an arranged marriage, is now divorced and is still close with his three children. He says at one point that the marriage was out of guilt for having feelings towards men and pressure to conform with religious norms in the Muslim community in Capetown.
“Obsession,” a film about “radical Islam’s war against the West,” is controversial both in its content and also because of its timely promotion just after the seventh anniversary of September 11, 2001, and weeks before the 2008 US presidential election. The film itself does not mention the presidential campaign and was actually produced back in 2006 by The Clarion Fund, a non-profit, making it illegal for the organization to take choose sides in campaign politics. On NPR critics of the film claimed producers and promoters of “Obsession” attempted to sway voter opinion in favor of John McCain.