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Critical Currents in Islam Media Roundup (24 April)

[Abdulnasser Gharem, a Saudi conceptual artist, poses in front of [Abdulnasser Gharem, a Saudi conceptual artist, poses in front of "Generation Kill," a piece made with rubber stamps, digital print and paint at the opening night of his exhibition titled Al Sahwa (The Awakening) at Ayyam gallery in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Image by Aya Batrawy via Associated Press]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating about Islam and reflects a wide variety of opinions and approaches. It does not reflect the views of the Critical Currents in Islam page or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to by Saturday night of every week.]

Art and Science

Islam the opera: curtain up on Clusters of Light about life of prophet Muhammad A musical theater production on the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad has debuted in Sharjah featuring several notable Arab singers. Tours are planned for Malaysia, Turkey, and Paris.

Saudi Artists Cautiously Push against Redlines AP reports on the use of art by Saudi modern artists to express frustrations on sensitive topics less confrontationally.

Shedding a Light on Islamic Art’s Great Treasure An Islamic art exhibition called “Nur: Light in Art and Science” inspired from Seville, Spain is on display in the Dallas Museum of Art. Pieces include objects from private and public collections.

Why some Muslim countries won’t screen ‘Noah’ Omar Sacirbey writes on the banning of a new Hollywood film, “Noah” based on the story of Noah’s Ark in many Muslim countries. He explains their objection over the visual depiction of prophets through tradition and scripture.

Muslim Minorities and Minority Muslim

New York Drops Unit That Spied on Muslims The NYPD has shut down a secretive program aimed at surveilling Muslim neighborhoods. This departure from post-9/11 intelligence gathering is credited to the department’s new commissioner William J. Bratton.

New group aims to conduct census of Muslim Americans The newly formed US Council on Muslim Organizations has announced its intention to conduct census report to encourage political participation.

'Living On Borrowed Time,' Said Kenyan Muslim AP reports on the ongoing violence in Kenya, including several assassinations of Muslim leaders after last year’s attack on a Nairobi mall by al-Shabab.

A small town in West Virginia responds to Anti-Muslim Sentiment Omar Gharba reports on a West Virginia Islamic Center and Muslim community’s experiences of vandalisms and anti-Muslim sentiment.

Crimea’s Tatars Condemn Annexation, Seek Autonomy The leaders of a minority group within Crimea, the Tatars called on the international community to recognize them as an autonomous group and rejected Russia’s annexation of the region.

Le Pen targets halaal and kosher food: French National Front to stop Muslim and Jewish pupils having pork-free school dinners Kashmira Gander reports on French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen’s announcement that schools will be prevented from offering religiously acceptable meals to Muslim and Jewish students.

Texas terror suspect planned mosque attack, officials say Michael Muskal writes on a foiled plan in Houston by a man wanting to rob an armored vehicle, kill an officer, and shoot people praying in a mosque. He discusses the man’s ideological motivations to create a different society called a “Pre-Constitutionalist Community.”

Plan for 'Sharia-compliant' student loans to get more Muslims into university Graeme Paton reports on the British Universities Minister’s announcement of a new plan to offer interest free loans to encourage Muslims to go after higher education degrees.

Unspeakable violence against Muslims in Burma Several attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Burma have gone unrecognized by the government, which has banned humanitarian organizations that have treated victims of these attacks.

Muslims in the armed forces: A proud tradition Jamie Merrill discusses the history of Muslims serving in the British armed forces and the more recent increase in the number of Muslim recruits.

Successful Muslim Women at the White House Hadeer Nagah writes on a forum hosted by the White House and the Muslim Public Affairs Council on Muslim women contributions to the United States titled “Beyond the Ceiling: Groundbreaking Voices of American Muslim Women.” Seventy successful Muslim women representing the fields of STEM, business, government, and communications were present.

Political Islam

The Muslim Democracy Steven Cook writes on Turkey’s Erdogan and his ruling AKP and their turn for a more “illiberal and authoritarian” regime. He questions the model of democracy that Turkey had played according to the Obama administration.

One dead, 529 convicted: a story of judicial revenge in Egypt Gert Van Langendonck reports on the sentencing of 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death in Upper Egypt for the death of a police officer. He explains that the background of the judge ruling in the case offers insight into verdict and the lack of protests following the sentencing is a result of fear by people in Mattay, not approval.

Britain Orders Inquiry Into Muslim Brotherhood in London Prime Minister David Cameron ordered an inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood. This investigation is aimed to determine whether the group is operating and planning violent attacks from London.

Safe in exile, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leaders now risk irrelevance Louisa Loveluck explains that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leadership in exile have the opportunity to review lessons from Morsi’s time as president. Loveluck also warns that while they enjoy relatively more freedom in exile, they maintain little control over their membership in Egypt and have few links to those on the ground.

Congratulations, You Have Been Martyred! Michael Peck writes about online games where “jihadists” fight and destroy their enemies and points out that they are Iranian and Saudi. These low tech games produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) organization suggest, according to Peck, that the chosen enemies in these games is a departure from other jihadist games online which tend to fight against the West.

Piety and Practice

Alexandria Declaration on Women Rights in Islam A declaration of Women’s Rights in Islam from the “Women’s Issues: Towards a contemporary Islamic Ijtihad” international conference, organized by civil society groups and the Bibliotheca Alexandria. The declaration embraced five basic premises and covered issues on a woman’s human and social value, legal personality, family, education, labor, personal security, and public action.

Malaysia's Islamic endowments set to venture into shares, bonds Al-Zaquan Amer Hamza writes that Malaysia’s awqaf or endowments has made plans to turn to equities and bonds from real estate donations to ensure better returns by expanding the donor base. This possibility comes after roundtable discussions on how to modernize awqaf.

Commercial Bank of Kuwait to convert to Islamic banking Reuters reports on the Commercial Bank of Kuwait’s shareholders approving a plan to convert the bank into an Islamic lender.

FGM Is an Act of Terrorism – Not an Act of Islam In a blog featuring an excerpt from his upcoming book, Qasim Rashid writes that Islam does not permit FGM, contradicting popular myths. Rashid cites Islamic traditions and decisions by religious authorities to explain why he equates FGM with terrorism.

Projects, Papers and Books

The Limits of Muslim Liberalism Zaheer Kazmi’s essay questions the purpose of liberal Islam, which he sees failed at curbing radicalism and hindered open debate making many conflicts worse. Instead, he sees that Muslim liberals despite their diverse views have encouraged a binary discourse, placing Muslim militancy and radicalism opposite Muslim liberalism.

The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror Robin Yassin-Kassab reviews Arun Kundnani’s study on anti-Muslim hysteria in the United States and the United Kingdom and the possible political and social implications of policy and discourse targeting Muslims.

Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an Juliane Hammer reviews and critiques Denise Spellberg’s book on Thomas Jefferson and other early founders of the United States and their attitudes towards Islam.





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