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This past week, there were two Iftars in Washington DC, one by the State Department and the other at the White House. I was honored to be invited to the former but was unable to attend. What surprised me was a huge controversy that erupted between Muslims on twitter about whether these Iftars were worthy of attending, tagged with #WhiteHouseIftar. The twitter debate was, as usual, more vitriolic than useful, but Prof. Omid Safi laid out the case for boycotting the iftars in a civil and reasoned way. In a followup post, Omid called upon Muslim Americans to stand up for Justice (as per Qur'an 4:135), specifically about drones and Gitmo. In response, I lay out a vision for a Muslim American domestic agenda that I'd like to share here, below the fold.

from my post:

I fully agree with Omid that we as Muslim Americans should organize collectively and productively, following the example of the civil rights movement. But our target should not be foreign injustice, it should be the injustice right here at home. Examples:

* Islamophobia-inspired violence against Muslims and “Muslim-like” minorities (ie Sikhs)
* Religious freedom in terms of building mosques and Islamic centers (notably, Joplin and Park 51)
* Racial profiling, especially of African Americans (who comprise half the Muslim American population)
* TSA and immigration and customs persecution of Muslims (particularly, the No-Fly list)
* Invasion of privacy and domestic surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD (even in Jersey!)

and we should also lend our organization towards these causes which affect more than just the Muslim American community:

* Government data collection on all citizens (NSA/PRISM)
* Economic injustice (Detroit going bankrupt)
* Feeding the poor (budget cuts to child food programs)
* Jobs, jobs, jobs

These are all areas in which sustained Muslim American organization and action can make a substantive impact and directly influence the quality of life and increase social justice not just for hundreds of thousands of Muslim Americans, but millions of Americans overall. That is how we should be spending our social capital and the justice we should be standing for.

As I explain in my post, I am not trying to ignore drones or Gitmo or other issues of Justice abroad, but I simply am trying to make teh case that our Muslim American community's activism at home should be focused on Muslims and Americans at home.

I invite you all to check out the piece and share your feedback. What do you think a Muslim American domestic agenda should look like?

Originally posted to Muslims at Daily Kos on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 06:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Street Prophets , and Black Kos community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    City of Brass: principled pragmatism at the maghrib of one age, the fajr of another

    by azizhp on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 06:51:10 AM PDT

  •  Speaking as an American Jew, my faith has (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn Russell, Odysseus, JDsg, Ojibwa, azizhp

    also had to struggle for acceptance in America.

    We may have different scriptures and different theologies and different views of Israel, but we must defend each other's 1st Amendment rights.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here:

    by Kimball Cross on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 07:36:56 AM PDT

  •  Aziz, justice for non-Muslims in Muslim countries, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian S, Odysseus, FG

    should be on your list. I'd say at  the top of the list.

    As you likely know, the state of human rights, equal rights under the law, and deliverance of justice for many groups such as:
    1. people of non-Islamic faiths (such as the Copts in Egypt, Buddhists in Indonesia, and many others)
    2. atheists and agnostics
    3. people from minority Muslim sects (such as the Shia in Sunni-majority places, or unwanted sects such as the Ahmadiyas)
    4. apostates (people who choose to leave Islam for other religions or no religion)
    5. women
    6. gays
    is in a very poor condition in many Muslim-majority countries.

    If thoughtful and conscientious Muslims in the West such as yourself took up and championed the cause (there are so many available avenues and tools for this sort of activism today) of justice for these groups of people in Muslim countries, a lot of improvement can be brought about in their lives. Agree?

    •  a domestic agenda (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, JDsg, angry marmot

      I completely agree that when Muslims discuss drones and Gitmo we should also be discussing religious freedom. I thought I alluded to that in my post, but I may have omitted it.

      the broader point though is that beyond condemnation, theer isn't much we can meaningfully do to affect the situation abroad. However we do have political organization and influence on a domestic agenda, which is where we shoudl be devoting our organizational efforts.

      Omid's calls for a boycott make no sense for foreign injustice but are absolutely spot on for a domestic agenda. Thats all I'm really trying to say.

      City of Brass: principled pragmatism at the maghrib of one age, the fajr of another

      by azizhp on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 01:01:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had the opportunity to attend a session with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poco, azizhp

    Dr. Abdul Aziz Said at American University a number of years ago.  He's probably the best person I had ever heard or talked to about Muslim-American issues.  Here's a youtube video of one of his lectures a few years ago.  Worthwhile watching!

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 09:24:36 AM PDT

  •  I like the list but would like to see (0+ / 0-)

    more boldness. A Muslim American movement supporting gay rights, for instance. You often hear about homophobia in the Muslim community, so it would be nice to see Muslims who believe in equality for gays and lesbians have more of a voice.

    •  i will admit (0+ / 0-)

      that i deliberately omitted LGBT from the list. The reason is because it's a venue for fitnat right now - we don't even have unity inside the MuslAm community on that, so raising it now will fragment any political organization we try to achieve. Realistically I think we are a generation behind mainstream America with regards to LGBT :(

      City of Brass: principled pragmatism at the maghrib of one age, the fajr of another

      by azizhp on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 01:02:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If an Iftar is a religious ceremony, then (0+ / 0-)

    the White House has no business hosting one at all.  If it is not, and simply a meeting to address the concerns of Muslim citizens, then that is OK. To keep things clear, the adminstration should not use that term for the meeting.   Obama held a seder in the White House and that in my view is very wrong.  Since there is no way for the White House to offer religious ceremonies for every religious sect in this country, they should not do any of them. Have you seen Obama do any Wiccan celebrations at the White House lately?? I think not. And that right there is why our government should not mess with this stuff. Someone is always left out (especially the atheists).  Obama is really bad on this church/state separation issue.

  •  Tipped & rec'ed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azizhp, Denise Oliver Velez, poco

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 05:40:40 PM PDT

  •  Republished to Street Prophets nt (4+ / 0-)
  •  American Muslims (0+ / 0-)

    have no influence on the conduct of the Pakistani military or the actions of individuals in the huge extended  House of Saud  family.  Or, for that matter, on government policy toward Israel & Palestine.   It would benefit American Muslims to focus on improving conditions in America & promoting  their religious freedom,  presenting American Islamic practice as one of moderation tainted by the loud voices of a radical minority.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 10:00:49 PM PDT

  •  I've had mixed feelings about this... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azizhp, poco, angry marmot

    ...issue.  On the one hand, I understand the position of those who argue against attending the Iftar.  Certainly this administration hasn't lived up to the early rhetoric, and the recent report on drone casualties (20% civilians, 12% children) hasn't improved that perception.  On the other hand, I believe that events like these give an easy way to speak privately with those administration officials present to outline our positions on behalf of the American and global Muslim communities.  In that regard, I think that boycotting the iftars is a mistake to be avoided.  I'd rather Muslims engage in Ramadan diplomacy.

    Muslims and tigers and bears, oh my!

    by JDsg on Sat Jul 27, 2013 at 10:33:10 PM PDT

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