Have you ever walked into a convenience store and wanted to shoot the guy behind the counter? Okay, that’s a trifle harsh, but an arresting way to begin an article nevertheless. It was one of those stunningly cold January evenings, when it got so frigid it felt someone had left ice cubes in my shoes and forgot to tell me. But the weather deterred neither myself nor the thousands of others who’d gathered for a Palestine peace march. When we’d yelled till our voices had withered to nothing spokesperson for the group. “Hamas represents all Palestinians.”
Besides Ulker chocolates and coming-of-age circumcision, Turks love their football clubs. The problem is that fans invariably express a virulent and morally-erosive hatred of the other side. Thats why Turkish Ulema put in their own 27,780 lira to put an end to an epidemic of expletives. Instead of mindless swearing, they have urged soccer fans to yell a mindful “Subhanallah!” or “Mashallah!” instead.
A Muslim man near Calcuttta, India has sought to save dozens of neglected Hindu temples in his area for the last three decades. Along the way, Mohamed Yassin Fatah, a school clerk turned preservationist, has incurred the wrath of Muslims and Hindus who share neither Mr. Fatah’s common-sense vision nor his uncommon ability to transcend communal pettiness. If only the Saffronistas pushing pogroms and mosque-demolitions could get a whiff.
Joan of Arc would be proud. Two young French girls are standing up for their beliefs. Only this time, the two sisters – Lila and Alma Levy – are Muslim and head-covering. And their father? He’s Jewish and furious at the decision by the Henri Wallon lycee in the northern Parisian suburb of Aubervilliers to expel his daughters. “It’s like saying to people who so often feel they are excluded from society that they actually are,” Mr. Levy said.
An Indian man who claims he is 132-years-old can now complete his only unfulfilled dream – to perform the Hajj. Blind for the last five decades, Habib Miyan, a resident of Jaipur, Rajasthan, has been a pensioner since 1938. Mr Miyan said he would thank God in his prayers for the benefactors that have enabled his Hajj. As Sayeed Qureshi, India Hajj committee member, summed up this outbreak of benevolence: “There is no dearth of nice people in this world.” ‘Nuff said.
What’s heartening about wild pigs disrupting an august gathering of Somali influentials intermittently devoted to discussing reconciliation? Nothing, except the last part. Wild pigs or not, Somalis – who are overwhelmingly Muslim with the possible exception of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch parliamentarian of Somali descent – have been talking this year about creating a better future for their troubled land.
Tired of the incorrigible sexism of their menfolk, Muslim women in a southern Indian village have opted to build their own mosque. The women, residents of the Tamil Nadu village of Parambu, were motivated by what they say is a biased decision-making process in the village’s male-dominated dispute settlement forums. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Maulana Kalbe Sadiq has endorsed the womens’ right to construct a mosque.
From now on, children at a British elementary school will not hear stories about hogs when their teacher reads stories to them. That’s because the head teacher at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in the West Yorkshire hamlet of Batley has banned stories about pigs from the classroom to avoid offending Muslim children. The majority of the school’s pupils are Muslim. Swine-inclined students will still be able to access the sordid tale of the Three Little Pigs in the school’s library.
There is something about which Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami and India’s Shiv Sena can agree: Valentine’s Day. Both organizations have called for bans on Valentine’s Day celebrations, which have apparently spread in both countries to include Valentine’s dinner balls at hotels as well as card and teddy bear exchanges between paramours. “This is a shameful day,” said Khalid Waqas Chamkani, a JI leader in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. “The people in the West are just fulfilling and satisfying their sex thirst.” As the over-praised pug-faced islamophobe Winston Churchill once chimed, “The empires of the future will be empires of the mind.” Perhaps this is what the neocons mean by “winning Muslim hearts and minds”.
I bet Steve Earle gives Karl Rove nightmares. A self-described “American boy,” Earle has ruffled a few right-wing feathers as his grammy-nominated album “Jerusalem” made it to No. 7 on the country music charts. The album’s songs, especially “John Walker’s Blues,” incurred the wrath of FoxNews and right-wing radio because they question the shadowy premise of post-9/11 America. “The biggest revelation for me was how ignorant Americans are of Islam, which I think may be dangerous,” says Earle. “Christians don’t know that Christians, Muslims and Jews all worship the same god.” While Earle thinks “Jerusalem” is the “most pro-American record” he has ever made, he also muses that it “just may get me f–kin’ deported.” Earle wasn’t the only country star speaking truth to power this year: the Dixie Chicks bushwhacked the President and Willie Nelson penned a poignant anti-war ballad, “Whatever Happened To Peace On Earth?” Country stars not speaking truth to power included Oklahoma’s Toby Keith, with his boorish militarist paean “The Angry American, Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.”
Mas’ood Cajee is a dentist and writer who lives in Northern California.