English Muslim woman stops anti-Semite


This December 2016 video from the USA says about itself:

Martin Luther and Anti-Semitism

A panel featuring Mark R. Silk, Trinity College, Hartford; Dean P. Bell, Spertus Institute, Chicago; and Martin Hauger, High Consistory of the Evangelical Church in Germany, discusses Martin Luther’s changing opinion on Jews as well as the impact of the Reformation on Christian-Jewish relations in the 16th century. Sunday, November 13, 2016.

From Jewish daily Forward in the USA, 22 November 2019, by Aiden Pink:

Muslim Woman Defends Jewish Family From Anti-Semitism On London Underground

A Jewish family riding on the London Underground was accosted by a man yelling anti-Semitic language – but was defended by a Muslim woman also riding on the train, video posted to social media Friday showed.

The footage, posted by British author and filmmaker Chris Atkins, showed a Jewish man wearing a kippah comforting two young kippah-wearing children as another man preached [in a fundamentalist Christian way] loudly at them about how they were part of the “Synagogue of Satan”.

A bible quote.

The preacher, using obscenities, also threatened to “smack” another person on the train who got too close to him. A woman wearing a hijab then told him off about his language, ignoring the preacher’s criticisms of her for wearing trousers.

The video of the incident has over one million views.

Q&A With Asma Shuweikh, The Muslim Hero Who Defended A Jewish Family: here.

Britain saw a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2019, the Community Security Trust, the British anti-Semitism watchdog organization, reported in August.

Climate change endangers Islamic pilgrims


This 11 July 2019 video says about itself:

Heatstroke concern among Thai doctors about Hajj pilgrimage

Doctors have voiced their concerns over Thai pilgrims in Saudi Arabia catching heatstroke, as they have to face the scorching temperature of 46 degree Celsius.

From the American Geophysical Union in the USA:

Rising summer heat could soon endanger travelers on annual Muslim pilgrimage

August 22, 2019

Over two million Muslim travelers just finished the annual religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, traveling during some of the country’s hottest weather. New research finds pilgrims in future summers may have to endure heat and humidity extreme enough to endanger their health. The results can help inform policies that would make the trip safer for the several million people who make the pilgrimage each year, according to the study’s authors.

Hajj, or Muslim Pilgrimage, is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith. It is an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, that involves living in the hot weather conditions of Saudi Arabia. Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetimes. Islam follows a lunar calendar, so the dates for Hajj change every year. But for five to seven years at a time, the trip falls over summer.

A new study projecting future summer temperatures in the region around Mecca finds that as soon as 2020, summer days in Saudi Arabia could surpass the United States National Weather Service’s extreme danger heat-stress threshold, at a wet-bulb temperature of 29.1 degrees C (84.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

Wet-bulb temperature is a measurement combining temperature with the amount of moisture in the air. At the extreme danger threshold defined by the National Weather Service, sweat no longer evaporates efficiently, so the human body cannot cool itself and overheats. Exposure to these conditions for long periods of time, such as during Hajj, could cause heat stroke and possibly death.

“When the Hajj happens in summer, you can imagine with climate change and increasing heat-stress levels conditions could be unfavorable for outdoor activity,” said Elfatih Eltahir, a civil and environmental engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“Hajj may be the largest religious tourism event,” Eltahir said. “We are trying to bring in the perspective of what climate change could do to such large-scale outdoor activity.”

Adapting to rising temperatures

Middle Eastern temperatures are rising because of climate change and scientists project them to keep rising in the coming decades. In the new study, Eltahir and his colleagues wanted to know how soon and how frequently temperatures during summer Hajj would pass the extreme danger threshold. The researchers examined historical climate models and used past data to create a projection for the future.

In the past 30 years, they found that wet-bulb temperature surpassed the danger threshold 58 percent of the time, but never the extreme danger threshold. At the danger threshold, heat exhaustion is likely and heat stroke is a potential threat from extended exposure. Passing the extreme danger threshold for extended periods of time means heat stroke is highly likely.

The researchers then calculated how climate change is likely to impact wet-bulb temperature in Saudi Arabia in the future. They found that in the coming decades, pilgrims will have to endure extremely dangerous heat and humidity levels in years when Hajj falls over summer. Their projections estimate heat and humidity levels during Hajj will exceed the extreme danger threshold six percent of the time by 2020, 20 percent of the time from 2045 and 2053, and 42 percent of the time between 2079 and 2086.

Climate change mitigation initiatives make passing the threshold during these years less frequent, projecting one percent by 2020, 15 percent of the time between 2045 and 2053, and 19 percent of the time between 2079 and 2086, according to the study.

The study authors stress that their projections are meant not to cause anxiety among pilgrims but instead to help them adapt, and to help authorities plan for safe Hajj.

“These results are not meant to spread any fears, but they are meant to inform policies about climate change, in relation to both mitigation and adaptation” Eltahir said. “There are ways people could adapt, including structural changes by providing larger facilities to help people perform Hajj as well as nonstructural changes by controlling the number of people who go.”

“They’ve provided a very compelling example of an iconic way that 2 to 3 million people per year that can be really vulnerable to what to me is the biggest underrated climate hazard — this combination of high temp and high humidity,” said Radley Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory who was not involved with the study. “I believe as the century progresses if we don’t reduce our greenhouse gases [this] could become every much as an existential threat as sea level rising and coastal flooding.”

An epidemic of chronic kidney disease that has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers worldwide, is just one of many ailments poised to strike as a result of climate change, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus: here.

New research finds that a warming planet will also alter ocean waves along more than 50% of the world’s coastlines. This research, published in Nature Climate Change, has significant implications for coastal flooding and erosion: here.

Saudi beheading for opposing banning of music?


This 16 February 2018 video, in Arabic with English subtitles, says about itself:

Male-female interaction (free mixing) allowed in Islam (Shaykh Hasan ibn Farhan al-Maliki)

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Saudi Arabia wants to kill religious reformer for his ideas about Islam”

Human Rights Watch warns that the Saudi authorities want to impose the death penalty on a moderate religious thinker based on a series of vague indictments. The Islamic cleric has been detained since September 2017, according to the human rights organization because he is calling for reform of religious rules in Saudi Arabia.

This Hassan Farhan al-Maliki is said to have criticized, eg, clergy who ban music. He is said also have argued for freedom of religion. His opponents believe that his ideas are in conflict with Wahabism, the conservative tendency of Islam followed in Saudi Arabia.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi authorities call him an extremist who has insulted the rulers of the country.

“Does not match with statements of crown prince

The prosecution of the clergyman is not in line with the statements by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, human rights activists say. Bin Salman has said that he wants to introduce a more moderate version of Islam into Saudi Arabia and thus open up the country to the rest of the world.

“Reforms only really take place if thinkers like al-Maliki can express themselves freely without fear of being arrested or even executed“, says Human Rights Watch.

“Now the Saudi authorities want to put a man to death because he criticizes clergy who ban music. Meanwhile, Saudi leaders pay millions to public relations corporations to show how progressive they are by allowing concerts by western artists in Saudi Arabia.”

More criticism

International criticism has been made of the reform policy announced by the Saudi crown prince two years ago. Critics say that little has changed in practice and point to all the intellectuals and clerics who have been arrested since bin Salman said he wants to introduce a more moderate Islam.

Including jailing the women activists who made it possible for women to drive cars in torture prisons, threatening them with beheading.

The crown prince was also criticized for having been involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia still fighting the war in neighboring Yemen.

TRUMP DEFENDS ‘BIG BUYER’ SAUDI ARABIA President Donald Trump shrugged off his own government’s report that Saudi Arabian leadership ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, stressing that the Middle Eastern kingdom is a “big buyer” of U.S. products. [HuffPost]

Saudi regime beheading moderate Sunni Moslims


This 25 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi Arabia Sentences 3 Moderate Sunni Scholars To Death

Three prominent moderate Saudi Sunni scholars held on multiple charges of “terrorism” will be sentenced to death and executed shortly after Ramadan, two government sources and one of the men’s relatives have told Middle East Eye.

The most prominent of these is Sheikh Salman al-Odah, an internationally renowned scholar known for his comparatively progressive views in the Islamic world on sharia and homosexuality.

Read more here.

This 20 February 2019 video is called Saudi scholar Salman al-Odah facing the death penalty.

SAUDIA ARABIA WANTS TO EXECUTE ANOTHER TEEN As a boy, Murtaja Qureiris participated in demonstrations and expressions of dissent in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province during the 2011 Arab Spring. Three years later, Saudi authorities arrested Qureiris, then just 13 years old. Now 18, he faces the death penalty. [CNN]

Saudi cleric imprisoned for refusing to warmonger


This 2019 video about Saudi Arabia says about itself:

The son of Sheikh Salman al-Awdah speaks out about his father’s arrest.

My Father Faces the death penalty in Saudi Arabia for supporting human rights.

In Saudi Arabia and Saudi-occupied Bahrain, people are sometimes jailed and/or flogged for blogging or for tweeting. Now, someone has been incarcerated for not tweeting.

From Al Jazeera today:

Cleric Salman al-Awda ‘held over Qatar tweet’

A prominent Muslim scholar has been detained by Saudi Arabia for the past four months without charge, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

Saudi authorities detained Salman al-Awda on September 7 and later imposed travel bans on members of Awda’s family, the US-based rights group said on Sunday.

A family member told HRW that Awda was being held over his refusal to comply with an order by Saudi authorities to tweet a specific text to support the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

Instead, Awda posted a tweet on September 9, saying: “May God harmonize between their hearts for the good of their people” – an apparent call for reconciliation between the Gulf countries, HRW said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a boycott against Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of aiding “terrorists” and having close ties with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.

The family member cited by HRW said that authorities permitted Awda only one phone call in October.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman‘s efforts to reform the Saudi economy and society are bound to fail if his justice system scorns the rule of law by ordering arbitrary arrests and punishments”, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.

“There’s no justification for punishing family members of a detainee without showing even the slightest evidence or accusation of wrongdoing on their part.”

Saudi crackdown

According to HRW, Awda was among the first of dozens of people detained in mid-September as part of a crackdown against what Saudi authorities said were those acting “for the benefit of foreign parties against the security of the kingdom and its interests”.

Saudi Arabia carried out another wave of arrests in November against people they accused of corruption and held many at five-star hotels until they agreed to turn over assets to the state.

Awda’s brother, Khaled, was also held after he tweeted about his brother’s detention, media reported. He remains in detention, according to HRW.

Saudi authorities imposed travel bans on 17 members of Awda’s family, according to HRW.

“If Mohammad bin Salman wants to show that a new era has begun in Saudi Arabia, a refreshing first step would be the release of activists and dissidents who have never been charged with a recognisable crime and should never have gone to jail in the first place”, Whitson said.

Grenfell Tower disaster and London Muslims


This British TV video says about itself:

Grenfell Tower: lawyers question appointment of “tainted” experts to inquiry panel

Sky News 6 July 2017

By Amar Azam in London, England:

A community devastated

Friday 7th July 2017

AMAR AZAM talks to activists at the al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove – which is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy

MOHAMMED ALHAJALI was the first of the residents laid to rest, in an east London cemetery, thousands of miles away from his war-torn Syria.

At his funeral last month, we learnt more of the gentle nature of the 23-year-old. He had fled the conflict in his homeland in hope of a better life in Britain.

Instead, it was cut short at a tenderly young age. Like those countless others that lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the details of his final moments are difficult to bear.

Alhajali was to perish in his 14th-floor flat in Grenfell Tower after attempting to reach his family on the telephone. His last message to friends was to tell his parents that he loved them.

Who knows, over time, the civil engineering student may have completed his studies and returned to help rebuild his nation.

Elsewhere in London on that same day, Mohammed Mahmoud, the imam at the Finsbury Park mosque which was the scene of an act of terrorism the previous night, was hailed by his community and honoured by Prince Charles for his actions in protecting the attacker in the immediate aftermath.

This has been a difficult few weeks for Britain’s three million Muslims. The backlash from the tragic incidents in London and Manchester has led to a rise in Islamophobic attacks as an entire community faces demonisation. These attacks continue to escalate. However, despite this Muslims remain stoic.

The al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London’s Ladbroke Grove is one of the establishments in the borough that threw open its doors in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Its rooms still contain surplus donations of food, clothing and toiletries, boxes stacked floor to ceiling.

In one of the offices Samer Darwish, the imam of al-Manaar, ponders the events of recent weeks.

“What that imam showed was the genuine face of Islam,” he says. “His actions were absolutely correct. He understood that he needed to show restraint and he also understood the repercussions had the attacker been hurt.”

He praised the reaction of the local Muslim community.

Darwish adds: “This tragedy has affected so many people and I was so pleased with the way Muslims reacted. The work carried out here has been for the benefit of all in the wider community. We have demonstrated that we can show humanity and compassion.”

After late afternoon prayers, some of the volunteers who are staffing the main hall and have provided all manner of support services for the victims and their families are leaving for the day.

Counsellors have been available for those that need emotional support, as have legal experts and those that have helped fill in forms, provide refreshments or just lent a sympathetic ear.

“We’ve met so many types of people and, personally, it has been a really challenging experience,” said Asif Bhayat, of the National Zakat Foundation, one of the British-based charities that has supported residents through immediate financial assistance.

“The ones that really stick in the memory are the ones that you can see really wanted to talk because they had no-one else to talk to.

“It is those interactions that will stay with me. The tears of those that have lost everything are difficult to bear. Hearing stories of the children affected has been tough.”

Hassan Awad, one of the duty officers at al-Manaar, insisted on leading the congregational prayer for his wife Rania and two girls, Fethia, five, and Hania, three. The outpouring of grief from the congregation was immense. No person should ever have to do what he did.

As dusk approaches at al-Manaar, the smell of cooked food begins wafting in as donations from local people and companies begin to turn up. It’s been like this ever since the day of the tragedy.

Fresh bread and cakes from a local firm in the nearby industrial estate arrive.

“We wanted to make a donation as we’ve seen our neighbours here go through so much,” says Shaz, one of the workers from Sally Clarke bakery.

“This is our way of doing our bit as we know that the food will go to a good cause.”

A team of volunteers begin the immediate task of distributing the food among the families in the area spending another evening in makeshift accommodation. Others remain resting, clearly left a little fatigued by the events of the day and the challenge of doing so while maintaining a fast of 18 hours in what has been the hottest week of the year.

The more we find out about our victims, the more and more it become difficult to detach oneself from the tragedy.

“I have been here since the morning of the fire,” says Tabassum Awan, 31, from nearby Notting Hill.

“I live near the tower, and I called in on the morning thinking they could need some help and was asked to man the phones as the switchboard was becoming inundated.

“What I’ve seen in my time here will stay with me forever. In this tragedy, you’ve seen people from all walks of life come together.”

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea is not only one of the most ethnically diverse in our capital, it is also one where there is a sharp contrast between rich and poor.

Make the short walk beneath the A40 Westway overpass to nearby Notting Hill and you will find the Methodist Church sitting among the white stuccoed townhouses and picturesque tree-lined streets that characterise this trendy part of London. Here you will come across one of many great floral tributes to those lost.

Faces peer out from beyond the flowers, some of them smiling. One of those is of Jessica Urbano, the 12-year-old was one of the younger residents not to escape the inferno. A reminder of how the fire did not discriminate.

A few weeks later, we return al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, and the Eid festival laid on for the families affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy is a few hours old.

A packed main hall at the centre is awash with colour. Excitable young children burst from in between the food stalls clutching presents given to the mosque from generous donors.

Others sit there, proudly showing off their fresh henna patterns and newly painted faces as they enjoy the seemingly endless supply of cupcakes, popcorn and candy floss.

Present too are local residents, mingling freely. This is a day for the community here in this part of London.

The pain and anguish will remain as a scar on the collective consciousness of the community here in this corner of London for a generation and more to come, and long after the tower is razed to the ground and replaced with whatever memorial is deemed fit.

The pervading feeling is one of injustice; of lives lost due to greed, in the name of austerity or negligence. Let’s hope that their pain will ease over time, and the community can continue to come together to mend itself.

Painter Mondriaan, influenced by Islamic art


This 2016 video says about itself:

Showcase: Islamic geometric patterns– The possibility of infinite expansion

In this special edition, we’ll take a look at Islamic geometric patterns. Geometric designs have a special place in Islamic art. A combination of repeated squares and circles can be found on a variety of buildings, garden floors, carpets and even textiles. Far from being mere forms of decoration, these repetitive geometric designs are meant to connect the viewer to a higher state of consciousness.

In 2008, I blogged about the relationship between famous Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan and Islam. Specifically, a probably Muslim girl wore a headscarf with a colourful pattern, based on a Mondriaan painting.

Then, I did not know yet that there had also been influence the other way round: influence on Mondriaan by Islamic artists.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Mondriaan and Islamic geometric art

Hans Janssen, Eric Broug

Date: 22 June 2017

Time: 15:00 – 17:00 hrs.

Address: Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden

Room: 00.01

LUCIS will organize two lectures about Mondriaan and geometric art in Islam on June 22. Before the lecture, a free guided tour will start at Pieterskerkplein at 13:30 hours. Both the lecture and the tour will be in Dutch. Registration via: lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. More information at the Dutch page of this event.