Monthly Archives: September 2015

Why Merkel’s Kindness to Asylum Seekers Could Reflect a German Soft Spot for Islam

The World Post – The Huffington Post

By Akbar Ahmed

Photo: Sean Gallup via Getty Images

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she would take up to800,000 asylum seekers this year, many wondered whether the lady had slipped in the tub and banged her head or was high on weed. Almost single-handedly she helped to change the mood towards refugees. Ordinary citizens were holding up signs with “welcome refugees” and policemen in uniform were handing out sweets and toys to the arriving children. Parents seeking asylum in Germany were naming their children “Angela Merkel” and Syrians stranded in Hungary chanted “Germany, Germany, Germany.” While many in her country supported her, others, and not only members of Pegida, objected.

The pope had already boldly reached out to the desperate refugees emerging out of the deadly waters of the Mediterranean and was seen by them as Francis the Fearless. The German chancellor now basked in a new glow as Merkel the Magnificent. In contrast, other European leaders appeared shrunken and reduced. The British prime minister with his miserly intake was seen as Cameron the Curmudgeon and the Hungarian prime minister with his aggressive rejection of compassion as Orban the Odoriferous.

The scale of Germany’s generosity is blurred because when the world looks at anything German its gaze invariably shifts to the horrors of the last century. Commentators thus suggested that Germany was compensating for the death and destruction it inflicted on the world during the Nazi era. Others looked elsewhere for explanations, with some arguing that Germany needed a young able-bodied and trained workforce to fill the vacuum in its aging and declining population.

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Strengthening the idea of America by narrowing the divide between the West and Islam–Patrick Burnett (Opinion), The Plain Dealer

By Patrick Burnett

Just recently, we Americans witnessed a young Muslim boy in Texas arrested over the clock he invented and simply wanted to show his teachers. Just recently, we witnessed Donald Trump fail to counter a questioner at a New Hampshire rally who essentially called for Muslim ethnic cleansing.

As a Catholic raised in Northeast Ohio, I have seen this wide gap between Muslims and non-Muslims persist throughout the region and America. Sometimes, though, all it takes is spending time with the “other” to realize that we are not all that different from one another.

On Sept. 5, at the Islamic Society of North America Convention in Rosemont, Illinois, I had the opportunity to speak alongside Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former Pakistani high commissioner to the United Kingdom; Dr. Amineh Hoti, director of Pakistan’s Center for Dialogue and Action; and Michael Wolfe of the Unity Productions Foundation, on a panel representing the launch of the new film “Journey Into Europe.”

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The Journey Into Europe book cover (Brookings Press–Forthcoming) is now live

Journey Into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity. Brookings Press–Forthcoming

JIE cover-page-001

Journey Into Europe: Hopes and Hurdles in Bridge Building — Patrick Burnett, Views and News

By Patrick Burnett

JIE Team
Amb. Ahmed (center), Patrick Burnett (second from right), and Ahmed family at ISNA Convention 2015 in Rosemont, IL

As a Catholic who grew up in Northern Ohio, I never thought I would be speaking on a panel at the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) annual Convention and Film Festival a mere four months after receiving my bachelors degree.

Yet on Sept. 5, I had the opportunity to speak alongside Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former Pakistani High Commissioner to the U.K., Dr. Amineh Hoti, Director of Pakistan’s Center for Dialogue and Action—speaking a mere 36 hours after arriving in the U.S. from Islamabad—and Michael Wolfe, renowned author and director, of the Unity Productions Foundation, on a panel at the ISNA Convention in Chicago to discuss Muslims in the media.

But more importantly, I represented the new film Journey Into Europe, one of the most important films to date on dialogue between the West and Islam, at its launch, acting as an interfaith ambassador working to promote understanding and goodwill on behalf of my country and culture.

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What is the future of multiculturalism in Europe? – Ali Imran, Pakistan Today

Washington-based correspondent Ali Imran has published a review of Journey Into Europe in Pakistan Today. Check out the piece here.

Bridging the Divides: Muslims in Europe — Raza Rumi, Huffington Post

Journalist Raza Rumi has written a review of the Journey Into Europe film in the Huffington Post. Check it out here.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed appears on Interfaith Radio, Sept. 4

Ambassador Ahmed appeared on Maureen Fiedler’s Interfaith Radio this week to discuss the European refugee crisis and Islam in Europe as compared to the U.S. Listen here.