WBEZ | islam http://www.wbez.org/tags/islam Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en UNICEF Estimate of Female Genital Mutilation Up by 70 Million http://www.wbez.org/news/unicef-estimate-female-genital-mutilation-70-million-114764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-164496099-50_custom-3a55eb017a23e50d7af50b88c8b9646ca9e620f9-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Forget about the conventional wisdom that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) rarely takes place outside of Africa and the Middle East. Recalibrate that to 30 countries on several continents, according to a new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unicef.org/media/files/FGMC_2016_brochure_final_UNICEF_SPREAD.pdf">statistical analysis</a>&nbsp;by UNICEF that calculates that at least 200 million females today have undergone some form of the procedure.</p><p>About 60 million of affected females come from one country: Indonesia, where about half of the girls age 11 and below have undergone the practice. Yet this is the first time that Indonesia has been included in UNICEF data. We asked&nbsp;<a href="http://www.equalitynow.org/people/tanya_sukhija">Tanya Sukhija</a>, program officer with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.equalitynow.org/">Equality Now</a>, an organization that supports the rights of women and girls, about FGM in Indonesia and around the world. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.</p><p><strong>In light of the high numbers in Indonesia, why wasn&#39;t it included before?</strong></p><p>The Population Council [a research and programmatic group] had conducted a study in Indonesia in 2003, but that is outdated. This is the first time the government collected the information.</p><p>I think they are seeing a lot of international pressure to take the issue seriously.</p><p>Collecting the data is a great step forward in Indonesia and around the world.</p><p><strong>What do the numbers &mdash; 70 million more worldwide in 2016 than in 2014 &mdash; tell us?</strong></p><p>The data shows that this really is a huge problem and action is needed to curtail it. Beyond the 60 million added from Indonesia, the additional 10 million comes from population growth. Growing populations mean that if we do not do more to end the practice, the numbers will also grow.</p><p><strong>Is FGM ongoing in other countries not accounted for in the latest UNICEF report?</strong></p><p>There are many other places where the data is not robust. There is one particular community in India, the Dawoodi Bohra, that does practice FGM &mdash; but without the data we don&#39;t know the extent. This is just one example. There have been reports in Europe, Australia, North America, South America. This is really a global issue.</p><p><strong>Does the FGM practice in Indonesia differ from elsewhere?</strong></p><p>There are definitely&nbsp;<a href="http://www.equalitynow.org/what_is_FGM">variations</a>&nbsp;in the way it is performed among and within countries.</p><p>But regardless of the type, it is all considered female genital mutilation. It can result in being more susceptible to infections after the procedure, to obstetrical complications, pain during intercourse and childbirth and mental health consequences.</p><p><strong>What needs to be done to stop the practice?</strong></p><p>We need laws in place anywhere that girls are affected. Law is the foundation for protection of any human rights of women and girls. In Indonesia, we are working with our partner there,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kalyanamitra.or.id/en/">Kalyanamitra</a>&nbsp;calling for a clear law criminalizing FGM and also anyone who practices it.</p><p>Medicalization of the procedure [allowing medical personnel to perform it] is also problematic. It lends it legitimacy. In 2010, the Indonesia government authorized medical personnel to do this. Under international pressure the [government] revoked that in 2014. The new regulation says instead that the procedure should be done with regard to the health and safety of the girl. It isn&#39;t much better but it shows that they are making changes, even though they are not going far enough.</p><p><strong>Are there programs that have succeeded in other countries?</strong></p><p>I would point to Kenya as an example: They have a law banning FGM, and they are also doing a lot to implement it. They have an anti-FGM board, a government body charged with making sure the law is followed, and with education and raising awareness [of the issue].</p><p>The bottom line is that we need laws in place anywhere that girls are affected, as well as support and education. FGM is not just an African problem. This is an international issue.They also have a special unit in their public prosecutions office to investigate and prosecute FGM cases, and prosecutors who are specially trained to pursue such cases. There are also a number of organizations in Kenya helping girls trying to escape FGM, by providing shelters, for instance, and working with local, traditional and religious leaders. People also use alternative rites of passage ceremonies, celebrating reaching puberty not with cutting but with rituals. This highlights the need for having a law as well as other mechanisms to support the law.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/02/08/466033967/unicef-estimate-of-female-genital-mutiliation-up-by-70-million?ft=nprml&amp;f=466033967"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 08 Feb 2016 15:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/unicef-estimate-female-genital-mutilation-70-million-114764 After Historic Elections in Saudi Arabia, What's the Future for Women? http://www.wbez.org/news/after-historic-elections-saudi-arabia-whats-future-women-114230 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_603279723628_custom-9103137ed0c5e46bef8f9209302cc964c690ddc3-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="storytext"><div id="res459492391"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Saudi women vote at a polling center during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Saudi women are heading to polling stations across the kingdom, both as voters and candidates, for the first time in this landmark election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/ap_603279723628_custom-9103137ed0c5e46bef8f9209302cc964c690ddc3-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 435px; width: 620px;" title="Saudi women vote at a polling center during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Saudi women are heading to polling stations across the kingdom, both as voters and candidates, for the first time in this landmark election. (Aya Batrawy/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>In municipal council races in Saudi Arabia a week ago,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/12/14/459683623/saudi-women-elections-are-one-step-forward-on-a-long-road">21 female candidates were elected to office</a>. In the country&#39;s third-ever elections, the monarchy gave women the right to vote, as well as to seek election to office.</p></div></div></div><p>Nearly 1,000 women ran throughout the country, but while there were 1.36 million men registered to vote, according to the&nbsp;Wall Street Journal, only 130,000 women could vote.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Rachel Martin and Marisa Peñaloza traveled to Saudi Arabia ahead of the election to find out how women were reacting to their new rights and how they&#39;ve been living.</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>One candidate&#39;s view</strong></p><div id="res459492972"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Haifa Alhababi, architect and candidate in the election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/haifa-edit_custom-0f037749a7696972299693be29386386795b708b-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Haifa Alhababi, architect and candidate in the election. (Mohammed Al-Khawajah for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Haifa Alhababi is an architect and university teacher. She also was one of the women vying for a spot on one of the municipal councils.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;First of all, I was curious to know what&#39;s happening.</em></p><p><em>&quot;Like, I went to the balloting workshop ... if it&#39;s like, really beneficial or if it&#39;s like, because I have this idea from living abroad that this is about, this is a major step, and who runs here?</em></p><p><em>&quot;But for myself I don&#39;t want to be, like, a politician &mdash; I&#39;m not a politician, I&#39;m an architect. So I wanted just to be sure. Is it work like outside, or its something different here? So thank God that I went to this workshop and I realized that it&#39;s more about local issues that we really face.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>Alhababi, who had studied abroad in the U.K. and who also had lived in Texas for some time, said the country&#39;s standing in the world is not where some would like to hope.</p><p>&quot;I always said that they call us &#39;developing country&#39; because we have the oil &mdash; but we are not a developing country, we are still a third-world country,&quot; she said. &quot;So to deal with this mentality, to deal with these people, to deal with this system here, you need to work on the ground, not just to lecture and say words and that&#39;s it.&quot;</p><p>Alhababi is optimistic about her generation&#39;s future.</p><p>&quot;I believe that we&#39;re gonna create change,&quot; she says. &quot;When you experience, try something, live it, you understand. So you want to apply it to your country. No one hates their country &mdash; when you come back and live, that means you love your country, so you want to make it better.</p><p>&quot;What&#39;s happening now, for me, it&#39;s not about male and female, it&#39;s about the changing conception of people &mdash; that they try to understand that they should participate in their community. They should understand that, without your participation, the country won&#39;t go any further.&quot;</p><p><strong>What else do Saudi Arabian women need?</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460353506" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><div id="res459492442"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Aziza Youssef." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/azizayousef-marisa_custom-984f572371b66892acbb8e75f28907097d959dc8-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 226px; width: 210px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Aziza Youssef. (Marisa Penaloza/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>Some women, like Aziza Youssef, don&#39;t see how the election connects to their daily lives.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I&#39;m boycotting the election,&quot; she says. &quot;In my point of view, it&#39;s putting backward the women movement for rights. ... This election is just &mdash; it&#39;s for the West, it&#39;s not for us. ... It&#39;s good for our picture in the West.&quot;</p><p>Youssef, a former university lecturer now operating a full-time catering business, says she&#39;s made a name for herself by helping push the Saudi government&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/05/11/405885958/saudi-women-cant-drive-to-work-so-theyre-flocking-to-the-internet">to remove its ban against women driving</a>. Youssef says while people in the West may think letting women vote is great for women, it&#39;s exactly what the Saudi regime wants the world to think.</p><p>Her daughter, Sarah Alkhalidi, agrees that the elections won&#39;t mean much.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s like giving me a cashmere sweater when I need a place to sleep &mdash; that&#39;s the analogy I&#39;m using,&quot; she says.</p><p>The thirtysomething mother of three says she wants more control of her daily life.</p><p>&quot;I can&#39;t open a bank account for my children that takes money out of my paycheck and, like, for a savings account for them. I can&#39;t do that &mdash; their dad has to do that,&quot; Alkhalidi says. &quot;So it&#39;s like the whole guardianship issue. ... Even if my guardian tries to renew my passport, I can&#39;t pick it up. He has to pick it up for me. So I feel like these issues are more significant and more &mdash; like they have more influence on my daily life.&quot;</p><p>Guardianship rules dictate how women move around in Saudi society. They move with the permission of men &mdash; either a father, a brother, a husband or a son. Men also act as so-called guardians who oversee women&#39;s choices and escort them in public places.</p><p><strong>Security in Saudi Arabia, and its effect on calling for social change</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460354793" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><div id="res459495939"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Hala al-Dosari, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University from Saudi Arabia, poses for a portrait in her living room on Dec. 2, at her apartment in Baltimore." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/12/hala-al-dosari-jtsuboike-0013-edit_custom-e247a229efab71633ee1fbf38757ac4d213b0155-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Hala al-Dosari, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University from Saudi Arabia, poses for a portrait in her living room on Dec. 2, at her apartment in Baltimore. (Jun Tsuboike/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The recent aggressive response to would-be terrorists in the country has also meant a crackdown on anyone who seems to be speaking out in a way that threatens the regime. That means human rights activists, including Hala al Dosari.</p></div></div></div><p>For the past year al Dosari has been in the United States for a fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She also writes about women&#39;s issues for Saudi websites and international media, and as a result has been stigmatized at home as someone who wants to import Western values into Saudi culture.</p><p>She&#39;s supposed to go back home at the end of her fellowship, but she&#39;s afraid.</p><p>&quot;I listen to other activists being summoned for interrogation, and being threatened and being warned and being silenced &mdash; and I don&#39;t want to end up like that,&quot; she says. &quot;So I do feel intimidated. I do feel threatened.&quot;</p><p>She misses her family &mdash; her nieces and nephews especially. But she thinks she can effect more social change in Saudi Arabia from the outside, so she doesn&#39;t know when she&#39;ll go back.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think of it as a price, or as a cost,&quot; she says. &quot;I think it&#39;s whether you want to live aligned with what you believe in. I believe it&#39;s a duty, that everyone should do their part. And I don&#39;t think I&#39;ve paid the price of ... men and women who have been imprisoned &mdash; and still imprisoned for years, for ten years or so &mdash; for stating their opinions.</p><p>&quot;And I&#39;m safe. I&#39;m able to voice my concerns, I live in autonomy, I&#39;m protected.&quot;</p><p><strong>A quiet campaign</strong></p><p>While followers of American elections are familiar with lengthy primary and general elections, the Saudi candidates are under tight restrictions.</p><p>They spoke to NPR reporters only on condition that the material could not be published before election day on Dec. 12. The gag order affects both female and male candidates, but candidates spoke to NPR anyway.</p><p>At one event we attended, we were told we could not record the candidates&#39; statements. Government minders often watch over the candidates at their events.</p><p>Candidates also can&#39;t provide promotional materials that show their face, though some have found ways around that.</p><p><strong>The glass wall</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460354835" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><div id="res459567033"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="May Saja (left), general manager of merchandising at Harvey Nichols, who says that the election was &quot;just the beginning,&quot; but also that &quot;it's not easy to change the mindset of a whole country.&quot; On the right: one of the private makeup rooms Princess Reema put into the store to make female customers more comfortable." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/13/maysaja-mall_custom-aa9d0f147ae905aea35033177455d4633afa99ba-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 395px; width: 620px;" title="May Saja, left, general manager of merchandising at Harvey Nichols, who says that the election was &quot;just the beginning,&quot; but also that &quot;it's not easy to change the mindset of a whole country.&quot; On the right: one of the private makeup rooms Princess Reema put into the store to make female customers more comfortable. (Rachel Martin/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>On the trip, Martin and Peñaloza met with a member of the Saudi royal family. Princess Princess Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud, who until recently was the CEO of department store Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, walked us around a store and talked about the efforts for equality.</p></div></div></div><p>All the big names are here in Riyadh: Chanel, Dior, La Mer. And working behind the counters were women all dressed in the same long black robes, called abayas. Some wore thin veils over their faces, but most just had a loose scarf around their head.</p><p>During the visit, Princess Reema pointed out a glass-encased office where the female employees sat.</p><p>&quot;I guess the glass ceiling is in the West ... for us, it&#39;s the glass wall,&quot; she says. &quot;She can&#39;t stand up, but you can see her &mdash; and it&#39;s important for me to make sure that the men see and recognize that that woman is their equal. But out of respect for our community and our culture, she&#39;s in her private space.&quot;</p><p>Six years ago, Princess Reema decided that the way to get more women into her stores was to make them more comfortable &mdash; and that meant hiring women to sell things to them.</p><p>&quot;It was difficult when we first hired the ladies, because [the male employees] weren&#39;t sure how to react to them,&quot; she says. &quot;They weren&#39;t sure how to get in an elevator with them; they weren&#39;t sure, &#39;is it okay to say good morning, or do we ignore her?&#39; But once she&#39;s your colleague, you&#39;ve got to kind of talk to this girl. And we just kept moving the girls up to more senior positions.&quot;</p><p>NPR&#39;s Rachel Martin had some parting thoughts as she and the team departed Saudi Arabia. You can watch her clip below.</p><div id="res459561209"><div id="fb-root"><strong>&#39;A Good Moment&#39;</strong></div></div><div id="res460397769"><div><div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/459491653/460413760" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><img alt="Hatoon al-Fassi, speaking at a women's forum in Riyadh a week before the election." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/19/fullsizerender1_custom-22a20adb135ef1a2dc7da216c1bd6a554ecbb931-s200-c85.jpg" style="height: 391px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Hatoon al-Fassi, speaking at a women's forum in Riyadh a week before the election. (Deborah Amos/NPR)" /><p>After returning to the U.S., Martin spoke with Hatoon al-Fassi, a professor of women&#39;s studies at King Saud University in Riyadh. Fassi happened to be in Washington, D.C., and Martin asked her to reflect on the significance of the Saudi elections.</p></div></div></div><p>Despite the continued obstacles in campaigning, and even registering to campaign, Fassi says the results of the municipal elections offer reason for optimism.</p><p>&quot;Now you have women who are in the public eye for the first time, where they have to deal with real issues of their community,&quot; Fassi says. &quot;I believe that these local positions are very important. Women could change many discriminatory rules that deals with women&#39;s financial status, women&#39;s health, women&#39;s well-being.&quot;</p><p>And even if it&#39;s a small victory, Fassi says, it&#39;s a crucial one &mdash; and one that should be savored.</p><p>&quot;This is a good moment of reflecting on the victories. And it gives me hope that change can happen in my lifetime.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/19/459491653/after-historic-elections-in-saudi-arabia-whats-the-future-for-women?ft=nprml&amp;f=459491653"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sun, 20 Dec 2015 19:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-historic-elections-saudi-arabia-whats-future-women-114230 Wheaton Professor Suspended over Stance on Islam http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-17/wheaton-professor-suspended-over-stance-islam-114200 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/wheaton college flickr Stevan Sheets.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wheaton College this week suspended an associate professor who&rsquo;s been wearing a headscarf to show her solidarity with Muslims who face discrimination.</p><p>Dr. Larycia Hawkins says she&rsquo;ll wear the hijab every day until Christmas to live out her Christian faith.</p><p>The Evangelical school says its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/christian-college-professor-wearing-hijab-put-leave-114190" target="_blank">decision to place her on administrative leave </a>is not about the headscarf, but rather comments she made on her Facebook page.</p><p>In particular, a post in which Hawkins said Christians and Muslims worship the same God.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Odette Yousef </a>joins us with the details.</p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 12:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-17/wheaton-professor-suspended-over-stance-islam-114200 Unbelief as a Belief System: Core Tenet for Christians' Fight for Religious Rights http://www.wbez.org/news/unbelief-belief-system-core-tenet-christians-fight-religious-rights-114186 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-52263955-058a4496c17ce65e641df6c852f4602a9a573bff.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res459703647" previewtitle="Activists hold posters during a March 2005 rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to support separation of church and state. The court heard two cases regarding whether Ten Commandments monuments should be displayed on government properties."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Activists hold posters during a March 2005 rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to support separation of church and state. The court heard two cases regarding whether Ten Commandments monuments should be displayed on government properties." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/14/gettyimages-52263955_custom-efa44954e7fe101f607569b5c0fd15eaec34cf95-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Activists hold posters during a March 2005 rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to support separation of church and state. The court heard two cases regarding whether Ten Commandments monuments should be displayed on government properties. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Christian conservatives who are battling for the right to promote their faith in public or official settings see themselves locked in an epic contest with a rival religion. But that rival isn&#39;t Islam. It&#39;s secularism.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;Secularism and Christianity are distinct, immutable religions,&quot;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.charismanews.com/politics/opinion/52031-to-retake-america-we-must-defeat-her-false-religion">writes David Lane</a>, founder of the&nbsp;<a href="http://theamericanrenewalproject.org/">American Renewal Project</a>, a group he organized to promote more political participation by conservative pastors. &quot;Secularism advances the fundamental goodness of human nature, where historic Christianity sets forth a pessimistic view of human nature.&quot;</p><p>The notion that secularism can be seen as a religion is ridiculed by many nonreligious people, but Lane and other Christian conservatives have their own Supreme Court hero to back them up: the late Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the court from 1958 to 1981.</p><div id="res459692906" previewtitle="The late Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981. Stewart was the lone dissenter in a 1963 decision banning Bible readings in public schools."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The late Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981. Stewart was the lone dissenter in a 1963 decision banning Bible readings in public schools." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/14/ap_6705110119_custom-bb000d47d68e18f6c1257c03534da43b692abd38-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 620px;" title="The late Justice Potter Stewart, who served on the Supreme Court from 1958 to 1981. Stewart was the lone dissenter in a 1963 decision banning Bible readings in public schools. (Charles Tasnadi/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>The lone dissenter in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1962/142">School District of Abington Township v. Schempp</a>, a 1963 Supreme Court decision that banned Bible readings in public schools, Stewart argued that prohibiting such religious exercises put religion in &quot;an artificial and state-created disadvantage.&quot; Such a ban, Stewart said, &quot;is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p><strong>Defining Secularism And Its Relation To The State</strong></p><p>That view of secularism as a religion has since become a key part of the conservative argument against a strict separation of church and state. It suggests that when government authorities ban prayers or Bible readings or Nativity scenes on public property or in official settings, it isn&#39;t avoiding the appearance of state support for religion, it&#39;s unfairly favoring one faith tradition over another.</p><p>In 1984,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=39565">President Ronald Reagan cited Stewart&#39;s dissent</a>&nbsp;in arguing for a constitutional amendment authorizing school prayer.</p><p>A secular viewpoint is normally understood as one that excludes religious references, so Stewart&#39;s claim is controversial, even among some people of faith.</p><p>&quot;Secularism is a way you look at the relation between government and religion,&quot; says Barry Lynn, a Christian minister who also directs Americans United for Separation of Church and State. &quot;If you say religion should keep its hands off government and government should keep its hands off religion, that to me is what a secularist is. You can have any or no theological beliefs backing that up.&quot;</p><p>Some scholars nevertheless say some advocates of secularism do have their own worldview and belief system. Among them is Robert George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a leading lay Catholic intellectual.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t think there really can be any question that there are forms of secularism, including some that are very prominent today in universities and other elite sectors of our society &mdash; belief systems that are comprehensive views &mdash; that function in people&#39;s lives the way that religions function in the lives of traditional religious believers,&quot; George says.</p><p>Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission at the Southern Baptist Convention, goes further.</p><p>&quot;In some virulent forms of secularism, you have a moral code that is being imposed [that] often comes with the force of penalty of law,&quot; he says. &quot;It acts as a religion in terms of demanding conformity and seeking out heretics.&quot;</p><p>Recent polling by the Pew Research Center suggests that&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/">secular attitudes are gaining strength in the United States</a>, with fewer Americans saying they pray daily or attend church regularly.</p><p>But can secularism really be considered a religion?</p><p><strong>Unpacking What It Means To Be Secular</strong></p><p>No way, says sociology professor Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. He specializes in the study of &quot;nonreligious&quot; people.</p><p>&quot;To me, what makes religion religion is the supernatural beliefs,&quot; he says. &quot;So a scientist who is gazing out at the universe and trying to make sense of it by looking at facts, physical properties, material reality, is not engaging in religion. The person who looks out at the universe and thinks there&#39;s a magic deity behind it is engaging in religion.&quot;</p><div id="res459691666" previewtitle="Phil Zuckerman speaks to his class at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. Zuckerman specializes in the study of &quot;nonreligious&quot; people."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Phil Zuckerman speaks to his class at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. Zuckerman specializes in the study of &quot;nonreligious&quot; people." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/14/zuckerman-pitzer_custom-ebf8764ae80c3a3cf8cd6a5926ec8571f3db1ef3-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Phil Zuckerman speaks to his class at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. Zuckerman specializes in the study of &quot;nonreligious&quot; people. (Scott Phillips/Courtesy of Pitzer College)" /></div><div><div><p>At Pitzer, Zuckerman has founded an academic program in&nbsp;<a href="http://catalog.pitzer.edu/preview_entity.php?catoid=3&amp;ent_oid=153&amp;returnto=171">Secular Studies</a>, the first of its kind in the country.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;We need to unpack what it means to be secular,&quot; Zuckerman tells his students in a recent class on the sociology of secularism. &quot;There is so much diversity and so many ways to be secular.&quot;</p><p>One of Zuckerman&#39;s students, Chance Kawar, says in an interview that his &quot;nonreligious&quot; identity stemmed in part from his experience in a Boy Scout troop sponsored by a local Catholic parish in San Diego. As a teenager, Kawar says, he realized he was gay.</p><p>&quot;There was a lot of name-calling and bullying, and I actually got kicked out of the organization,&quot; he says. &quot;That was a very traumatic experience for me, not being welcomed by this religious community because of my sexual orientation. It was certainly a big turnoff for me in terms of religion.&quot;</p><p><strong>Finding Acceptance Among The Nonreligious</strong></p><p>Not all of Zuckerman&#39;s students are anti-religion, however. April Forrest, a 30-year-old single mother who is finishing her college education, notes during a class discussion that not all Christian churches are as judgmental as they are sometimes portrayed to be.</p><p>&quot;You do find ones where it is about love and trying to make the world a better place and being more like God,&quot; she says, &quot;which would be like being as good as you can be.&quot;</p><div id="con459689220" previewtitle="related stories"><div id="res459688653">In a paper she wrote for Zuckerman, Forrest argued that God should not be blamed for bad things that happen.</div></div><p>&quot;I believe in a loving God,&quot; she wrote. &quot;I know that life isn&#39;t perfect. I watched my mother&#39;s battle with drug addiction and depression. I&#39;ve seen my father in and out of jail ... I saw my uncle die of AIDS. ... At 23, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. I struggle every day to do regular tasks. But I still believe.&quot;</p><p>In a personal note to Zuckerman that she added to the paper, Forrest wrote, &quot;I&#39;m sure you have a lot to say back to this. Actually, I&#39;m a little worried.&quot;</p><p>In an interview, she admits to fearing that Zuckerman and her Pitzer classmates might think less of her because of her religious views.</p><p>&quot;I guess there was a concern being here, where there is a culture of secularity,&quot; she says. &quot;I am aware that I&#39;m a little different in believing in God.&quot;</p><p>But Forrest found Zuckerman to be wholly respectful of her views. In an interview, he says he understands how people with religious convictions may feel out of place in some secular settings.</p><p>&quot;I had a Mormon student burst into tears in my own office, saying she felt so alienated, put down, mocked, criticized,&quot; Zuckerman says. &quot;So there&#39;s no question that in really secular enclaves like Pitzer College or Berkeley, if you&#39;re a student of faith, you&#39;re going to be made to feel defensive. You&#39;re going to be made to feel less intelligent, and that&#39;s definitely a problem.&quot;</p><p><strong>Secularists Not Dominating Cultural Landscape</strong></p><p>Such cultural conflicts are what lead some conservatives to allege the spread of &quot;anti-Christian bigotry&quot; in America. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said in a recent speech that &quot;secular progressives&quot; are among those in America &quot;<a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/ben-carson-liberty-university-215760">trying to push God out of our lives</a>.&quot;</p><p>But Zuckerman, the author of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Living-Secular-Life-Answers-Questions/dp/0143127934/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1449685967&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=Living+the+Secular+Life">Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions</a>, vigorously disputes such generalizations.</p><p>&quot;I can tell you from my research that in certain parts of this country, nonbelievers are certainly not the ones dominating the cultural landscape,&quot; he says. &quot;If someone is not churchgoing, people are suspicious of them. Prayers are said at the Little League games. I&#39;ve interviewed so many [secular] parents in the Bible Belt whose children are teased on the schoolyard and taunted that they&#39;re going to go to hell.&quot;</p><p>Zuckerman has data to back up his assertion that secularists are not a favored group. In a 2014 Pew survey where people were asked to rate 23 possible presidential traits,<a href="http://www.people-press.org/2014/05/19/for-2016-hopefuls-washington-experience-could-do-more-harm-than-good/">&quot;atheist&quot; came in dead last</a>. The share of respondents who said they were &quot;less likely&quot; to support an atheist for president had declined by 8 points since 2007, but it remained the least attractive trait a candidate could have, ranking far below using marijuana, having had an extramarital affair or being homosexual.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/14/458969716/unbelief-as-a-belief-system-core-tenet-for-christians-fight-for-religious-rights?ft=nprml&amp;f=458969716" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 13:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/unbelief-belief-system-core-tenet-christians-fight-religious-rights-114186 Morning Shift: December 15, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/morning-shift-december-15-2015-114169 <p><p>Republican candidates for president last met for a debate five weeks ago, before the Paris attacks, before the massacre in San Bernardino, and before candidate Donald Trump said the United States shouldn&#39;t allow more Muslims to enter the country. That comment will surely come up when the GOP candidates meet Wednesday night in Las Vegas. Trump&rsquo;s remarks have sparked a scorching back-and-forth in the news media and on the Internet, where some anti-Muslim attitudes have been on full display. We talk about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/being-muslim-america-today-114168">what it&#39;s been like to be Muslim in America</a> since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.</p><p>Plus, we speak with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/congresswoman-robin-kelly-continues-fight-against-guns-114166">Representative Robin Kelly</a> of Illinois&rsquo; 2nd District. She talks about the continued fight over gun control in Congress, three years after the Sandy Hook School shootings.</p><p>And, how are you making the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/how-are-you-making-holidays-more-meaningful-114165">holidays more meaningful</a>? We get advice from Chicago Tribune family issues reporter Bonnie Miller Rubin.</p><p>And a Northwestern Law professor brakes down the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/glenn-evans-acquittal-114167"> acquittal of Cmdr. Glenn Evans</a>.</p></p> Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/morning-shift-december-15-2015-114169 Being Muslim in America Today http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/being-muslim-america-today-114168 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/islam flickr Rudy Herman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After the Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks and at a time where some Republican presidential candidates have made strong anti-Islamic statements, what is it like to be a Muslim in America?</p><p>We talk with Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago officer of<a href="https://twitter.com/cairchicago"> CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.&nbsp;</a></p></p> Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-12-15/being-muslim-america-today-114168 Meet Mozzified, a site for Ramadan recipes, Sharia memes and nosy-auntie jokes http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Zainab Khan.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res446254259"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/zainab-sweater-14a436f4f9de96a56d09df6909ee3e116fd48f4a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Zainab Khan, founder of Mozzified.com (Courtesy of Zainab Khan)" /></div><div><div><p>A Muslim pop culture website: The idea seemed so obvious, Zainab Khan waited years for someone else to make one. A place for jokes about nosy aunties, sharing hijab hacks and Ramadan recipes, and advice on navigating Minder (yup, there&#39;s a Muslim Tinder).</p></div></div></div><p>But existing sites for young Muslims tended to focus on international news and politics.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/mozzified.com">Mozzified</a>, which Khan launched in January while attending journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley, is geared toward what Khan and her friends call &quot;Mozzies,&quot; young, socially aware Muslims who might, say, &quot;binge-watch&nbsp;Friends&nbsp;on Netflix, play basketball after Friday prayers and buy eco-friendly products.&quot;</p><p>Khan and a team of four classmates have put out dozens&nbsp;of articles on everything from Muslim street artists to the whereabouts of a post-One Direction Zayn Malik. The site thrives on inside jokes, like the&nbsp;<a href="http://mozzified.com/2015/02/26/thoughts-every-muslim-has-while-making-wudu-in-a-public-restroom/">12 thoughts every Muslim has while prayer cleansing in a public restroom</a>.</p><p>What you won&#39;t find? Apologies. Khan looks for content that she thinks will appeal to other young Muslims, and says she refuses to pander to fear-mongers or Islamophobes.</p><p>Khan expected the site to be popular with people like her &mdash; high school and college students who grew up with Muslim and American identities. She says she&#39;s been surprised at how many young Muslims from Australia, the U.K., Pakistan and India have been checking the site out, too.</p><p>Given that her target audience is one of the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/">fastest-growing&nbsp;</a>demographic groups &mdash; Pew estimates there will be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/future-of-the-global-muslim-population-main-factors/#age">540 million Muslim youth worldwide</a>&nbsp;by 2030 &mdash; Khan says Mozzified is just getting started. I had a few questions for her:</p><div><hr /></div><p><strong>So, what does </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong> mean?</strong></p><p>Mozzify is a made-up word. At Wesleyan, we had a small but active Muslim Students Association, this really cool community of international students and people from across the country who all had shared experiences, and we started calling each other &quot;Mozzies.&quot; The idea was this intersectional identity of being everything else&nbsp;and being Muslim.</p><div id="res446105150"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/05/mozzified-website-751d6905118ded8701230137d6b31a3c07dc06d6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="&quot;Food&quot; on Mozzified.com (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>To &quot;mozzify&quot; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&quot; Being a Mozzie, I&#39;m filtering the information that I&#39;m seeing. I think a lot of people do this, and it&#39;s really, really powerful for us to be able to give voice to that community.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><p><em>To &#39;</em><em>mozzify</em><em>&#39; is to take something from any culture and reinterpret it through a Muslim lens. So, for example, when I walk into a Nordstrom and I see a rack of scarves, I&#39;m like &#39;Oh, that&#39;s the hijab section.&#39; - Zainab Khan, founder of&nbsp;</em><em>Mozzified</em></p></blockquote><p><strong>Why did you start this website?</strong></p><p>I wanted to do something for people like me, in college or in high school, who are maybe the only Muslim students in their entire school, or just one of a few. They have these experiences that are very similar, but they don&#39;t know that there are massive groups of people throughout the world who are experiencing the same thing.</p><p>I grew up in a traditional Pakistani Muslim household, but being at Wesleyan University was the first time that I saw people perform both their American and Muslim identities comfortably. That was something that was really foreign to me, because growing up in my household, to be Muslim meant to be Pakistani, but here I was, a kid who was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I didn&#39;t feel very culturally Pakistani. But at Wesleyan, I noticed this unique culture of Muslims owning all of our identities.</p><p>I had a Muslim chaplain who was Egyptian and American Muslim, and the first time I saw her, she was wearing a Gap hoodie, a long denim skirt and a hijab. I thought that kind of epitomized this Muslim American identity, and that was really cool. As a kid, I was agnostic in high school, I wasn&#39;t practicing, and then I get to one of the most liberal colleges in this country and I saw that it was possible to perform all of my identities and to do it well.</p><p>How does your site address Muslim identity differently from spaces that already exist on the Web?</p><p>There&#39;s two ways to form an identity. One is by deciding who you are not, and in my opinion that&#39;s a very dangerous way to form an identity, because you&#39;re building yourself based on reactions rather than affirmations. So I wanted to create something that was based on an &quot;I am&quot; sort of identity formation.</p><p>But there&#39;s a vast breadth of knowledge on Islam and Muslims on the Web already, and I don&#39;t feel the need to re-explain. Instead, I get to have my contributors and myself and this large, large, large group of people share their stories as they want to, and as they see them. I think post 9/11, a lot of Muslims and a lot of Muslim organizations have gotten into this trap of being apologetic, and always responding. It&#39;s much more powerful to tell your own story on your own terms. I think it&#39;s really healthy for us as Muslims, as communities, to start understanding ourselves from inside out rather than outside in.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s next for </strong><strong>Mozzified</strong><strong>?</strong></p><p>There&#39;s a whole bunch coming. We&#39;re going to do a &quot;dirty laundry&quot; column, a platform to talk about the issues that we as a community want to ignore. The idea is that I want Mozzified to be an inclusive space for all kinds of Muslims. I don&#39;t really turn anyone away.</p><div id="res446351016"><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/06/mozz-final-picture-bottom-ef22142cea0c46e089d778655f1788e5ab9f95c6-s600-c85.png" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="Mozzified is a website about Muslim pop culture. (Mozzified.com)" /></div><div><div><p>One of my really good friends wants to write a piece called &quot;The F-word.&quot; And it&#39;s not the F-word that you would imagine; it&#39;s &quot;feminism.&quot; Why does that cause such a reaction in the community? Really exploring things that need to be aired out, airing out our dirty laundry. That&#39;s something I&#39;m really excited about.</p></div></div></div><p>Articles you&#39;ve written in the past that have gotten large reactions, both positive and negative: What were some of those reactions, and how have those experiences affected the way you pick what goes on Mozzified?</p><p>I&#39;m so happy the community called me out for this: I wrote a piece for the&nbsp;<em>Islamic Monthly</em>&nbsp;called &quot;<a href="http://theislamicmonthly.com/deconstructing-the-hijabi-bride-even-islam-in-america-is-hegemonic/">Deconstructing the Hijabi Bride</a>.&quot; When I talked about American Islam, I didn&#39;t even know that I was doing it, but I was promoting second-generation, educated Arabs and Pakistanis and South Asians as the communities that represent American Islam. People were really quick to call out the fact that I had completely disregarded black American Muslims, African-American Muslims and West African Muslims. I&#39;m thinking about model minorities, and within the American Muslim communities, who interacts with whom, whose narratives we are trying to erase, whose narratives we are not giving prominence. I think putting that piece out there was great in making me more self-aware.</p><p>I&#39;ve written pieces that end up on all these sub-Reddits where people just hate me, they hate my face, hate everything that I have to say. At first it&#39;s alarming, but I learned fairly quickly what it takes to do this kind of stuff. It&#39;s prepared me for the Internet and reactions in general.</p><p>My first major decision with Mozzified was that I don&#39;t want our posts to be reactionary. That&#39;s my philosophy when it comes to building an American Muslim voice, or a Muslim voice, or identity formation, whatever it may be. I wanted to do things on our own terms. Obviously, there&#39;s gonna be some news that really calls for our reaction, but for the most part, I still have the philosophy of, just put it out there and see what happens. I don&#39;t think it&#39;s smart to hold back.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/10/07/445261490/meet-mozzified-a-site-for-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes"><em>via NPR&#39;s Code Switch</em></a></p></p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/meet-mozzified-site-ramadan-recipes-sharia-memes-and-nosy-auntie-jokes-113223 Imam sex abuse charges prompt calls for greater transparency http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated March 16, 2015 regarding the role of Abdul Malik Mujahid.</em></p><p dir="ltr">As the criminal trial gets underway for a prominent Islamic scholar charged with sexual assault, some Chicago-area Muslims are calling for an investigation into what community leaders may have known about prior allegations of misconduct.</p><p dir="ltr">Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, 75, has been criminally charged with assaulting a female employee at the Institute for Islamic Education, a religious school he founded in west suburban Elgin, Ill.</p><p dir="ltr">Additionally, Saleem has also been accused in a civil lawsuit of assaulting three other females who were students at the school.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/the-culture-around-silence?in=wbez-worldview/sets/worldview-march-10-2015"><em>Worldview&#39;s</em>&nbsp;conversation on the culture of silence around abuse</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;A lot of people depended upon his advice,&rdquo; Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin said of Saleem. Kaiseruddin is chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, the largest coalition of Muslim institutions in Illinois. &ldquo;So right now we are dealing with a dilemma that this person who is teaching the Quran to everybody was violating (the) Quran himself.&rdquo;</p><p>When the allegations first surfaced in early December, a number of people both inside and outside the leadership ranks, called on the Council to act. After much back and forth between members of its House of Representatives, a body made up of leaders of its member organizations and former Council chairmen, it issued a <a href="http://freepdfhosting.com/1394ef2106.pdf">statement</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;My thinking on this thing is that any sexual abuse, criminal abuse like this, cannot be kept secret, cannot be kept covered up,&rdquo; Kaiseruddin said. &ldquo;Justice has to be served.&rdquo;</p><p>But the statement prompted a furor of debate on social media. Critics said it wasn&rsquo;t strong enough in voicing unequivocal support for any victims of sexual violence. Others said it perhaps struck an overly-deferential tone toward Saleem. In the wake of that early statement, many have been heartened to see the Council adopt a firmer tone of support for <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/653-2-17-15-ciogc-chairman-applauds-the-courage-of-sexual-abuse-victims">victims</a> and <a href="http://www.ciogc.org/index.php/communications/articles-and-statements/676-3-3-15-effective-steps-in-dealing-with-sexual-abuse">victims&rsquo; advocates</a>.</p><p>Yet some have accused the Council of sidestepping a potentially embarrassing and painful investigation of what its own leadership, and religious figures in the community, might have known about misconduct in the past.</p><p>&ldquo;The other component is to understand who within the community knew about this, and how we can address their understanding of what to do in these circumstances so we can prevent other victims from having to carry the burden into adulthood,&rdquo; said Humaira Basith, co-founder of the Mohammed Webb Foundation and a member of the CIOGC House of Representatives.</p><p>Basith pointed to the revelation that a member of the Council&#39;s House of Representatives, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, claimed to have heard about allegations against Saleem nearly ten years ago. In statements posted to Facebook and on the Council leadership listserv, Mujahid asserted that two religious leaders had quietly mediated a previous case involving a girl, that led to banning Saleem from offering Friday prayers at the mosque for two years. While Mujahid claimed to have heard this from one of those imams, he declined to identify them publicly.</p><p>&ldquo;And ultimately, that is really how the community came to know that this is a known issue with Abdullah Saleem,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. (AP)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IIE%20%28insert%29.jpg" style="float: right; height: 444px; width: 300px;" title="Mohammed Abdullah Saleem, a religious scholar and former Principal of the Islamic Institute of Education in Elgin, is charged with allegedly assaulting a female employee. " /></div><p>Mujahid, a former Council chairman, was unavailable for an interview. But in a written e-mail he stated:</p><p>&quot;I have championed the cause of opposing violence against women all my life. Many non-Muslim women have informed me of their ordeal. However, no Muslim victim has ever told me about a sexual crime nor have I been a part of any mediation.&nbsp;I have informed Elgin police about hearsay knowledge of a mediation dealing with Abdullah Salim. I believe, however, that only the victim or her chosen mediator can disclose it to (the) public. Filing a report with police is the best option in my view for any criminal activity rather than mediation.&quot;</p><p><em>(Editor&#39;s Note:&nbsp;We&#39;ve clarified Mujahid&#39;s role, the fact that he was unavailable for an interview and updated the paragraph above to include his full written statement.)</em></p><p>Basith said she has called on Council leadership to push harder to find out which imams may have known of cases of misconduct by Saleem. &ldquo;Those people need to be better trained in order to handle this so that the community has more transparency when these issues arise,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s really the core of it, is that we have no transparency in order to rectify it for the future.&rdquo;</p><p>So far, other Council leaders have not taken up her call. &ldquo;Briefly, at this time the council does not feel the need to investigate and identify the imams,&rdquo; wrote Kaiseruddin in response to a query from WBEZ.</p><p>&ldquo;My guess is that these are answers they may not want to have,&rdquo; said Basith.</p><p>Still, Kaiseruddin, and many others, said the Council deserves credit for other steps it has taken. The Council is developing guidelines on sound bylaws for its member organizations, in order to avoid another situation where an administrator has unquestioned authority like Saleem did at IIE.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also reviewing sexual abuse policies at Islamic schools throughout the area.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody came to the conclusion they need to upgrade their policies, and they wanted CIOGC to play a role,&rdquo; said Kaiseruddin.</p><p>Eman Aly said the Council&rsquo;s involvement has done a lot of good in cracking open the taboo topic of sexual violence in the Muslim community.</p><p>&ldquo;People are talking about it, and that&rsquo;s what we wanted,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Friends of mine who are parents have been asking, &lsquo;how do we talk to our kids about this?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Aly, a social worker, helped persuade the only victim to file criminal charges against Saleem. She said she believes the Council should investigate whether leaders in Chicago&rsquo;s religious community know about other cases of misconduct &mdash; so that if there are more victims, they get help.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 05:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/imam-sex-abuse-charges-prompt-calls-greater-transparency-111676 Marvel Comic's new female Muslim superhero http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marvel AP.jpg" style="height: 376px; width: 620px;" title="The image released by Marvel Comics shows character Kamala Khan, second left, with her family Aamir, father Yusuf, mother Disha and friend Bruno, from the &quot;Ms. Marvel&quot; issue. (Marvel Comics/AP)" /></div></div><p>Marvel Comics&#39; newest superhero is more than just a symbol of diversity and a deviation from the white, male norm that Spiderman, Wolverine, Captain America, and countless other comic book heroes occupy.</p><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/showbiz/ms-marvel-muslim-superhero/" target="_blank">Kamala Khan</a>, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, also looks and sounds like a real person, albeit with extraordinary powers.</p><p>In a universe where most female superheroes are impossibly stacked and Barbie doll-proportioned (to draw ogling male eyes) Khan is a refreshing change of pace. She is pretty, yes, but rock-hard body &quot;hotness&quot; is not what defines her. &nbsp;</p><p>Writer G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam, says Khan was created as a true-to-life person teenagers could relate to.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s for all the geek girls out there, and everybody else who&#39;s ever looked at life on the fringe,&quot; Wilson said in a statement.</p><p>Khan, who will make her debut in January, is radically different from most of Marvel&#39;s most popular female superheroes, but also appealingly meta for a fanbase already attached to legacy characters. While she lives with conservative Pakistani parents, she fits the mold of an angsty teenager and an outsider in school.</p><p>She also is an avid reader of Marvel comic books.&nbsp;</p><p>So when she discovers her superhuman power as a polymorph &mdash; being able to lengthen her arms and legs and change shape &mdash; she takes on the name Ms. Marvel, a title which previously belonged to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Carol Danvers. Now, Khan&#39;s story will be the one to inspire a new generation of girls and boys.</p><p>Series editor Sana Amanat, who also worked on Ultimate Spiderman and Ultimate X-Men comic books for Marvel, told <a href="http://www.deccanchronicle.com/131110/news-current-affairs/article/pow-zap-marvel-comics-present-teenage-female-muslim-superhero" target="_blank">Reuters</a> that a reflection of the Muslim-American experience through the eyes of a teenage girl creates a font of endless possibilities.</p><p>&quot;We are always trying to upend expectations to an extent, but our point is to always reflect the world outside our window, and we are looking through a lot more windows right now,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>In fact, the idea for this new kind of superhero came from a conversation that Amanat had with her senior editor, Steve Wacker, about her own experiences growing up as a Muslim-American.</p><p>&quot;He was interested in the dilemma I faced as a young girl and the next day he came in and said, &#39;Wouldn&#39;t it be great to have a superhero that was for all the little girls that grew up just like you, and who are growing up just like you are today, and to create a character they can be inspired by?&#39;&quot; said Amanat.&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, girls have been inspired by female superheroes from the moment Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941. But more than 70 years later, the endless parade of unbelievably bodacious babes in skin-tight bodysuits has begun to wear thin.</p><p>Female comic book fans need more than a strong, independent woman with superpowers and a slamming body to stay interested. We need diversity, in every sense of the word: racially, culturally, intellectually, and physically.</p><p>In my opinion, this is in part why so many comic book films and TV shows helmed by female superheroes (Elektra, Catwoman, and the Wonder Woman series that never made it to air) have fallen flat in recent years. The average woman or adolsecent girl has to fall in love with these characters too. If all she sees is plastic, how can she relate?</p><p>I&#39;m excited to see all of the new stories that the creators of Kamala Khan will bring to life, but I also long for more.</p><p>When will we see a mainstream superhero who is gender-queer or transgender? Why do the female characters continue to be drawn to serve the male gaze, with their supermodel sexiness and perfectly-chiseled abs? Isn&#39;t it about time we had a full-bodied female superhero, or at the very least, more&nbsp;<a href="http://geektyrant.com/news/2013/4/3/fully-clothed-female-superheroes-geek-art.html" target="_blank">fully-clothed</a>&nbsp;ones?&nbsp;</p><p>Still, the good news is that times are changing, and Kamala Khan has punched a hole through the glass ceiling with a resounding smash.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 12 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/marvel-comics-new-female-muslim-superhero-109122 DuPage County reverses decision on mosque http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/dupage-county-reverses-decision-mosque-107850 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/DuPage Mosque (1)_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>DuPage County has reversed <a href="http://www.wbez.org/dupage-board-denies-petition-turn-house-mosque-98954" target="_blank">an earlier decision on a zoning petition by a Muslim group</a>, and will now allow the Islamic Center of Western Suburbs to conduct worship services in a single-family residence near west suburban Bartlett. The reconsideration of the group&rsquo;s petition came per order of federal magistrate judge Sheila Finnegan, as part of a negotiated settlement between the two parties.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;They didn&rsquo;t vote right,&rsquo; that&rsquo;s what the judge said, &lsquo;You got to do it over, do it right,&rsquo;&rdquo; fumed Jacqueline Sitkiewicz, after the 10-7 vote in favor of the petitioner was tallied. &ldquo;Why have a county board, then? Just abolish it and when you have an issue, go right to the judge.&rdquo;</p><p>Sitkiewitz and her husband, whose home sits directly next to the ICWS property, were among many neighbors who voiced opposition during the public comment portion of the county board meeting. Many said that the proposed use, which would allow up to 166 people to visit each day, would overwhelm its septic capacity. They also said that plans to pave over portions of the property for a parking lot would result in stormwater flooding, and that traffic on the already-busy Army Trail Road would become more dangerous.</p><p>But this time around, commissioners had additional information about each of those points from the county&rsquo;s own agencies, which assessed the septic, stormwater flow and traffic conditions at the site.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/muslim-group-sues-dupage-county-over-zoning-denial-101471" target="_blank">The ICWS sued DuPage County in federal court last year</a> claiming discrimination after it failed to win its conditional use bid. But the county recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/muslim-group-claims-win-dupage-mosque-dispute-106420" target="_blank">lost a similar federal case</a> with another Islamic group, the Irshad Learning Center. That prompted the ICWS and DuPage County to pursue a settlement in their case.</p><p>ICWS still seeks damages and attorneys fees in their case, an issue that was not discussed at Tuesday&rsquo;s board meeting. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think the case is mooted because of the zoning approval today,&rdquo; said Mark Daniel, attorney for ICWS. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s one major step in the direction of getting this resolved. The biggest step, actually, but it&rsquo;s not the full route that we have to take.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 08:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/dupage-county-reverses-decision-mosque-107850