“Decades of Negative Coverage on Muslims Has Led to the Rise of President Trump, Brexit and Marine Le Pen” – Dr. Amineh Hoti, The Huffington Post

LAHORE, Pakistan ― There is a golden rule of compassion: do unto others what you would have others do unto you. Yet, in today’s world, we have seen racial and religious hatred directed towards women and minorities mainstreamed. Violent hatred in the West has reached an all time climax, with some of President-elect Trump’s supporters promoting the KKK and even Hitler with graffiti on school and campus walls and acts of harassment and intimidation towards minorities across the U.S.. Recently, Chinese girls on university campuses have tweeted about how they have been abused and told to get out of America. Muslim women have had their hijabs pulled off violently and even set on fire. African Americans who have lived in America for generations have been abused and violently told to “get the f***k out of this country, b**ch!” Mosques, synagogues and churches have sadly become sites of racial and religious abuse. The rise of President Trump in the U.S. (and for those who did not vote for him do not give up hope for he may be as good a president as he is a successful businessman?), the success of Brexit in the U.K., the increased popularity of Golden Dawn in Greece and the potential presidency of Marine Le Pen in France did not come out of the blue – the scene has been prepared for them, consciously or unconsciously over the last few decades.

I have been watching with deep concern over the last three decades a systematic attack on a certain minority community ― Muslims and their faith identity, Islam. When I was living in the U.K. as a scholar more than two decades ago, I recall the systematic negative reporting on Islam in general and Pakistan in particular. Like so many other friends of mine (non-Muslims and Muslims), this problematic coverage bothered me because first, it was not always factually correct and second, it was vitriolic. I wrote to Channel 4 in response to a negative documentary they released but nothing came of this feedback. The reporting only became worse with every incident of terrorism in which a Muslim was involved. Every time there was an incident, the universal pain of the attack would be forced to become obscure by the use of such terms as “terrorism,” “militant” “Islamic terrorism” and “Islamism”― unnecessary and provocative terms that associated extreme violence with the religion of Islam and the global community of Muslims ― in the media to describe the perpetrators. This is surely a terrible mistake, which I hope intelligent thinkers across the West would pick up.

Indeed, scholars like Muhammad Bauben in his book Image of the Prophet Muhammad in the West (2007) have pointed out the negative association of violence with Islam since the crude times of the crusades in Western popular thought and later in scholarship. Yet the global community of Muslims, consisting of more than 1.5 billion ordinary people, are “normal” people who aim for decent lives for their families ― work, jobs, education and above all peaceful living. But sure there is a crisis in the Muslim world of lack of education and opportunities. There are many scholars who keep warning against labeling any community, let alone the Muslim community, but the media in general have not heard the rational voices of caution. Every explosion is associated with Islam, a world faith that, like any other Abrahamic faith, promotes compassion and a peaceful way of life. We have to separate the religion from the acts of its deviant followers who are in fact far from ideal Muslims, they are mere criminals.

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Longing for Sharjah in Trump’s America – Elisa Frost, The Huffington Post

It’s been two weeks since I learned definitively that I would be a woman living in Trump’s America. I had known in my heart for a longtime that this was a possibility, though I fiercely hoped that I was wrong. I wanted my friends’ confidence that Hilary would “break the glass ceiling” to prove itself well founded. But as the election results began trickling in on Tuesday evening, my fears quickly shifted from possible to inevitable. As a woman, I began to feel sick to my stomach.

Even as I struggled to accept these election results I recognized how lucky I was – as a well educated white woman, I would remain more or less untouched. Still, I found myself deeply hurt by the direction America had decided to turn. When Americans elected Donald Trump as President of the United States, they sent me a powerful message: they told me that because I was a woman my health, safety, and humanity were negotiable.

No matter how many times Donald Trump publicly claimed that no one loved women more than him, his actions and statements about and to women have proven his deep rooted misogyny. He openly bragged that because of his fame he could get away with doing anything to women without waiting for consent, even “grab them by the pussy.” And even after multiple women confirmed that they had been sexually assaulted by Trump, he and his campaign dismissed his despicable conversation as “locker room talk” and “boy talk”. He has said that pregnancy is an inconvenience. He has regularly demeaned women for their biology – attacking Megyn Kelly after she challenged him during the first Republican Presidential Debate, derogatorily implying that she must have been menstruating. The list seems endless. When Americans elected Donald Trump, they told me that they agreed with or could at least overlook these demeaning words and actions and accept Trump as the top representative of America.

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Islam, Europe and the West – Yasser Latif Hamdani, The Daily Times

The Spanish term La Covivencia means the coexistence and refers to the period of Muslim rule in Spain when it is postulated that Jews, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully and borrowed from each other’s traditions liberally, thus laying the foundations for religious tolerance.

As a historical idea, it is not without criticisms. Some critics argue that this is merely a hypothesis and that things were far from ideal in Muslim Spain when it came to intercommunal relations. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Muslim Spain produced some of the greatest examples of the creative genius of plural societies. Averroes, the great Muslim philosopher and Maimonides the great Jewish philosopher emerged out of this great confluence of the three Abrahamic faiths. This is what the great poet Iqbal probably referred to when wrote in ode to the mosque at Cordoba or Masjid-e-Qurtaba:

To Love, you owe your being, O, Harem of Cordoba,

To Love, that is eternal; Never waning, never fading.

An appeal for the revival of La Covivencia is central to Dr Akbar S Ahmed’s latest documentary film “Journey into Europe,” where the veteran anthropologist and one of the foremost authorities on modern Islam in the world today ventures into Europe exploring Islam on the continent.

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Steadying the Pluralist Ship in the Choppy Waters of Today’s America – Patrick Burnett, The Huffington Post

Five days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and five days after hate crimes against minorities began to skyrocket, a church in Fredericksburg, Va. welcomed a Muslim speaker to the pulpit to speak for an hour and a half.

Let us unpack that sentence a bit. Donald Trump, the man behind the Muslim ban proposal, was elected president on Nov. 8. In the ten days since his election, there have been hundreds of reports of “hateful harassment or intimidation” reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Yet, in light of these tensions, a mere five days after the election, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, spoke to a full house from the pulpit at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg, VA, a community which has faced great interfaith tension in recent months, on the importance of building interfaith bridges in a time of great division. And the program ended in not one, but two standing ovations.

Ahmed’s talk in Fredericksburg, first proposed in June, was a direct response to a local conflictthat broke out in November 2015. The thirty-year-old Islamic Center of Fredericksburg had sought to build a new mosque to address the needs of a growing congregation. But the Spotsylvania County zoning board meeting convened to discuss the mosque’s construction plans quickly turned heated. The meeting, which took place in the days following the terrorist attacks in Paris, concluded with shouts and taunts towards the Muslim community, with one man even going on to yell, “Nobody, nobody, nobody wants your evil cult in this county.” The Islamic Center rescinded its proposal in August.

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Ambassador Ahmed to deliver a lecture titled “Building Bridges of Peace” in Fredericksburg, VA on Sunday, Nov. 13

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Journey into Europe selected for the First Annual Islamic Unity International Film Festival

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and the entire Journey into Europe team are excited to announce that Journey into Europe has been officially selected to be screened as part of the Islamic Unity International Film Festival (IUIFF) in Tehran, Iran. The festival, which will run December 17-23, 2016, concurrent with the 30th Islamic Unity Conference, in Tehran, aims “to open up Islamic and religious approximation worldwide in order to reach religious brotherhood on the basis of undoubted principles and Islamic similarities and prevent religious discrimination.”
World-renowned Islamic scholar and filmmaker Akbar Ahmed’s Journey into Europe documentary explores Islam in Europe and the place of Islam in European history and civilization. In the film, shot across the continent in countries including Germany, France, the UK, Spain, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, we hear from some of Europe’s most prominent figures – presidents and prime ministers, archbishops, chief rabbis, grand muftis, heads of right-wing parties, and everyday Europeans from a variety of backgrounds. Journey into Europe covers the most urgent issues facing Europe today: terrorism, refugees, and violence against minorities. Startling, challenging, and emotionally powerful, this unprecedented’s film’s themes of identity and acceptance are critically relevant to our world today.

For more information on the Islamic Unity International Film Festival, visit http://www.iuiff.ir.
For more information on Journey into Europe, visit http://www.journeyintoeurope.com.

The Spread Hummus not Hate rally bridges gaping interfaith divides, soothes election season tensions – Patrick Burnett

The 2016 presidential campaign has left many Americans shaken to their very core. More than half of Americans have reported this election being, at minimum, “a somewhat significant source of stress.” Meanwhile, women who have come forth recounting sexual assaults committed by one of the candidates are now being both insulted and threatened with lawsuits in retaliation. Young Muslims children have even suffered nightmares about one of the candidates taking them and their families away. The tension across America is simply palpable.

The U.S. is experiencing a dark, challenging phase of history, with our pluralist core facing existential threats the likes of which have not been seen in generations. It is amidst these great trials and tribulations though that we as American pluralists must fight harder than ever for the vision of the Founding Fathers.

Channeling this fighting spirit, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC, in conjunction with his partners at the Spread Hummus not Hate tour, convened an interfaith rally on the Quad of American University on October 20, with the goal of inspiring all Americans to fight vigorously for our neighbors of all faiths and stand up against the ear-piercing voices of hatred and bigotry. And while the rally may not have drawn the numbers of a Trump or Clinton rally, its statements about America today may be just as impactful as what is said in an Ohio arena filled to capacity.

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Professor Akbar Ahmed to host Spread Hummus not Hate rally at American University, Thursday, October 20

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Journey into Europe to screen at George Mason University Thurs. Oct. 27, 7:30pm

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Cutting the study of Islam a mistake – Harrison Akins, Knoxville News Sentinel

Do you daily use soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, coffee, a clock, a camera, a fountain pen? Did you study algebra, chemistry or the scientific method at a university? Do you own a guitar or magnifying glasses in your home?

If your answer is yes to any of these, you have Islamic civilization to thank, from which all of these inventions and scientific disciplines, plus many more, were developed during the medieval period.

Islamic civilization shaped our ideas of modern education (the first university was founded in Fez, Morocco, in 859 AD, over 200 years before the first university appeared in Europe); modern medicine (public hospitals structured around wards with trained staff physicians and surgeons using precise surgical instrumentation and science as the basis of their practice originated in Baghdad in the 9th century); and philosophy (Ancient Greek philosophy was revived and interpreted by Islamic philosophers in Muslim-ruled Spain).

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