They are part of the national fabric that holds our country together. They contribute to America in many ways, and deserve the same respect as any of us. I pledge to spread this message, and affirm our country’s principles of liberty and justice for all.
Posted by Anni on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
After yesterday’s post about the infuriating behavior of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools—they refused membership to Iman Academy, a Muslim school in the state, and made headlines by refusing to reschedule a game with a Jewish Orthodox school (the game fell on the Sabbath)—I’ve been thinking a lot about religious holy days and public education. Christmas has always been a school holiday, while other non-Christian holidays like Hanukkah or the two Muslim holidays of Eid, have not. I think this is an important issue to discuss. If we are giving kids days off for Christmas, don’t we have an obligation to respect all other religious days? If we don’t respect other religious days, should we start having school on Christmas?
Posted by Anni on Monday, March 26th, 2012
I was an athlete all through school. I played soccer and basketball for all four years of high school and all four years of college. We played a lot of parochial schools in our league. They would pray before games and again afterwards. We also played Orthodox Jewish schools and had to plan our games around Jewish holidays. I don’t ever remember there being any conflict about the fact that we were playing religiously oriented teams so I was rather surprised to read about the recent controversy in Texas.
Posted by Anni on Friday, March 23rd, 2012
If I were asked to identify one entity that I felt, if changed, would dramatically improve the image and lives of Muslims in America, it would be Fox News. This is thoroughly unsurprising. Fox has a longstanding reputation for vitriol. Even Fox’s fans recognize the polarization—for Fox vs. against—that splits our popular culture like a knife through butter. But they may not recognize the fabricated stories, the lack of fact checking, or the rampant opinion masquerading as real news. And can we really blame them? Every program on the network is designed to entertain, to shock, to terrorize, and to rally, and each of those things is compelling.
Posted by Anni on Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Dean Obeidallah is a comedian with a mission. He wants to show Americans that Arabs can laugh. In an interview for CNN, he talks about the strangeness of the stoic Arab in popular culture—serious, dangerous, and up to no good—who laughs maniacally and only at misfortune. He wants to change that cultural meme by cracking everyone up. Obeidallah accomplishes this by doing what all comics do: making merciless fun of his own people.
Posted by Anni on Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
After the All American Muslim/Lowe’s fiasco I’m a little overwhelmed with television. I’ve read about a hundred blog posts about why reality television is the right forum for exploring islamophobia, and about a hundred posts about why it’s all wrong for the job. To summarize: reality television’s ubiquity makes it accessible, but it also cheapens human experience and sensationalizes real issues. Reality television isn’t real, it’s edited and produced. The image we see of a “normal” Muslim family is a product of our appetite for entertainment. This means, while it may do some good, it may also be exploitative and misleading.
Posted by Anni on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
I am not a religious person. When I was a child, my parents encouraged me to attend religious events, to find my own way. I went to a Catholic church for a while, then to a synagogue, then to a mosque. I read the Bible, the Quran, the Popol Vuh, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Torah. In the end, I couldn’t decide which story made the most sense. Why should I believe in Jesus over Zeus? I realized that, for me, evidence-obsessed as I am, the thing that made the most sense was no story at all. Sometimes I wish I had a shared story with a group of people, so we could all feel connected. For me, the lure of religion (and please forgive me if this is sacrilegious) is more about people, friends and neighbors, than it is about God. Though I do feel connected to other non-religious people, it’s informal and we don’t have a place of worship.
Posted by Anni on Monday, March 19th, 2012
Before 9-11 the word Muslim meant Muhammed Ali, Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Malcolm X. To an American teenager, these associations were formative. Muslims were pop culture icons. They were idolized alongside the rest of our political figures, sports stars, and Hollywood actors. But then 9-11 happened and everything changed. I think this is a tragic but deeply interesting example of how our media, our politicians, and our prejudices can transform our cultural perceptions, shaping the prejudice of an entire generation.
Posted by Anni on Friday, March 16th, 2012
As you have likely heard, mayhem has broken out in Afganistan over the mistaken burning of Qurans at an American military base. Understandably, Afgan civilians and soldiers are outraged, a dangerous thing for people to be in a region of the world plagued by unrest and violence. As of the beginning of this month, the event has been linked to dozens of deaths in the region. In an attempt to quell the anger, President Obama made a public apology for the event. I was pleasantly surprised by his apology. Apologizing for such a blatant piece of disrespect in a war-torn and heavily religious country where we are guests, is the right thing to do. Unfortunately others in the political spotlight disagreed.
Posted by Anni on Thursday, March 15th, 2012
While we may not realize it in America with our baseball and football, soccer is the most popular team sport in the world. In recent years, women have found a place on the field, as many countries have begun to recognize the skill of their female athletes. International women’s leagues have raised the level of play, and today the women’s World Cup, while perhaps not quite as feverishly followed as the men’s, has thousands of die-hard fans. For young girls, soccer is a great way to build self-esteem, physical fitness, and interpersonal relationships. For the elite female athlete, soccer can now be a career. Of course, women’s soccer is not without its controversies. Recently, FIFA banned the hijab from the field.
Posted by Anni on Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
At this point in our nation’s history, islamophobia has become a constant hum. Each time someone new proposes a prejudice-driven piece of legislation, speaks out against a peaceful mosque, protests against a Muslim television program, or otherwise feels the need to share xenophobic rhetoric, life gets a little darker for a lot of people. How is the average Muslim living in America supposed to process these constant reminders of the prejudice all around him?