Contributor Talha Ahmad explores the effects of growing refugee populations on urban development. More »
Contributor Naomi Schmidt discusses Mohammed Assaf and his role as the first Palestinian to win Arab Idol. More »
By Alaa Saleh
From restaurants and purveyors to international Halal Food Festivals, halal food is making a breakthrough on a global scale. It is a healthy, wholesome way of eating for people of all backgrounds to enjoy, and now more accessible as it makes its way into prominent grocers and the delivery scene.
Halal is the term used to describe food and other products permissible by Islamic law. Muslims who adhere to Islam’s dietary restrictions are forbidden to eat pork products, carnivorous animals and birds of prey, and cannot consume any animal product if the animal was improperly slaughtered. Several organizations and outlets for halal products can help practicing Muslims – as well as those without any religious affiliation – locate, and enjoy, quality foods while observing their culinary specificities. From the beginning of an animal’s life to its end, it must have lived a pure life for it to be halal – from feeding them wholesome diets to sacrificing them so they do not suffer pain, animals are treated in a humane manner without alterations or additives, making the meat not only healthier, but of higher quality.
By Aseal Tineh
The Associated Press (AP) reported that the New York Police Department (NYPD) labeled entire mosques and Muslim organizations as “terrorism enterprises” in order to justify spying on imams, congregants, and ordinary Muslim civilians as a part of the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program, signifying law enforcement’s inability to protect the constitutional and civil rights of its citizens.
Once more, the NYPD has labeled an entire community as terrorists based solely on their religious beliefs, despite a lack of reasonable doubt or suspicious wrongdoing. “Terrorism enterprise investigations” (TEIs) allow the NYPD “to monitor political or religious speech whenever the ‘facts or circumstances reasonably indicate’ that groups of two or more people were involved in plotting terrorism or violent crime,” essentially legalizing the surveillance of any person who attends religious prayers or events and thus evading the First Amendment.
Mohammad Assaf became the first Palestinian to win Arab Idol last summer, making him a potential spokesperson for national unity. While his musical talent has launched him into the spotlight, the 23-year-old sensation refuses to be politicized.
After winning the second season of the American Idol spin-off, massive celebrations erupted in the streets throughout his homeland, including Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Ramallah. The participants exclaimed their adorations for Assaf’s smooth voice and charming smile, but they also embody a war-torn population in need of a peaceful representative for the Palestinian cause, allowing them “to feel as one people, forgetting at least for a while their political and geographical split”.
By Sarah Goomar
This summer, I was privileged enough to have interned at a non-profit called the Enough Project in Washington DC. The Enough Project is a human rights organization committed to documenting and combatting human rights abuses in Central Africa, namely in Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. My experience as a policy intern undoubtedly refined my research and writing skills, but perhaps more importantly helped me understand the importance of bearing witness and responding to mass atrocities around the world as a young Muslim activist.
A recent article by Murtaza Haider in the Pakistan-based publication Dawn highlighted the blight of cities in Pakistan due to their rapid, unplanned urban development and wrong-headed urbanization schemes.
November 6th marked a conference on Pakistan’s rapid urbanization courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. This conference featured the main issues facing Pakistan’s dense urban centers: rubbish-lined streets, gridlocked traffic, increasing violence, and dangerous, unsanctioned building projects.
Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national, was captured in Afghanistan back in 2001 while engaging in humanitarian work. After he was captured he was tortured in Bagram, and later in Guantanamo, where he was transferred. He has now been imprisoned without charge or trial for 11 years.
Initially the US justified Aamer’s capture and imprisonment under the pretense that he was helping the Taliban, but no formal charge was ever made. In 2007, Aamer, along with a handful of other prisoners, was cleared for release. Six years later and his release is yet to be made.
In late 2012, Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rahman, heard a drone fly overhead. He had never before given it much thought, until a missile landed near his home, killing his 67-year-old mother Momina Babi and injuring his three children. Rafiq and his family’s story is not unique, and many in his home region of Waziristan in Pakistan have told similar stories. The difference is that Rahman’s story was told to a panel of U.S. Senators.
What has shocked the international community most about this year’s Snowden scandal was the disproportionate apathy that was seemingly displayed by the American public. While there were protests in Hong Kong and Berlin, there was no significant public mobilization of proportional scale within the United States. There were feeble attempts to “Restore the Fourth,” but such demonstrations largely failed to translate into mainstream action. Perhaps the American public is weary from 12 years under the Patriot Act, or that they generally believe that they will be overlooked by the NSA’s peeping eyes as they have “nothing to hide.” What is groundbreaking about Snowden’s leaks was not necessarily revealing the capabilities of the American intelligence communities, but by exposing just how unexcused ordinary American citizens were from its reach.
From her 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nomination to the various conspiracy theories surrounding her recent fame, Malala Yousafzai- the 16 year old Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban in 2012- has been the center of attention in the media both in the U.S. and Pakistan. Malala is perhaps the first young Muslim woman of color portrayed favorably in U.S. media. But despite the media’s focus on Yousafzai’s educational activism, she also speaks out on more controversial topics such as U.S. drone strikes in her home country.
Chicago Monitor contributor Milos Markicevic interviewed Toufic El-Rassi about his 2008 graphic novel “Arab in America.” The semi-autobiographical book chronicles El-Rassi’s experiences in America as an Arab immigrant and an American Muslim after 9/11.