French Muslims have faced more violence since Charlie Hebdo than they did in all of 2014

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Tracy McNicol at The Daily Beast reports:The National Observatory Against Islamophobia says there were 128 anti-Muslim incidents reported in France between the Charlie Hebdo killings and Jan. 20, compared to 133 last year. The Islamophobia monitoring group, linked to the French Council of the Muslim Faith, notes the figure only takes into account incidents reported to law enforcement. It leaves aside victims who haven’t bothered out of fear or resignation. It also leaves out numbers not yet a … [Read more...]

Interfaith literacy: A chat with Omar Sarwar on Islam & atheism, pt 1

Omar Sarwar

Back in November, Omar Sarwar, who is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, wrote a piece for Huffington Post that thoroughly debunked some of Bill Maher and Sam Harris' go-to talking points about Islam. After he showed up to engage our readers in discussion about his piece, we figured that Sarwar had a lot more to contribute to this conversation.We asked him a few questions about himself, about his academic work, and about his views on the relationship between Muslims and … [Read more...]

Vox: asking Muslims to condemn terrorism is Islamophobic

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Max Fisher at Vox has had some spot on commentary about Islamophobia. Most recently, he wrote about the response to the Sydney hostage crisis, but his comments apply equally well in the aftermath of yesterday's tragic massacre at a Pakistani school. Fisher writes: There's a certain ritual that each and every one of the world's billion-plus Muslims, especially those living in Western countries, is expected to go through immediately following any incident of violence involving a Muslim … [Read more...]

“Serial” illustrates why prosecutors should not be allowed to invoke jurors’ prejudices


Like many others, I’ve religiously listened to Serial every Thursday for the past few  months. While I’m fascinated both by the story and the format, I do have some concerns about the journalistic ethics of the undertaking. For instance: do the advantages of highlighting problems within the criminal justice system warrant turning an actual murder case into audio entertainment?One underlying aspect of this case that has mostly been danced around, but has finally been made explicit, is the ques … [Read more...]

Omar Sarwar mythbusts Maher & Harris

Yesterday on Huffington Post, religion historian Omar Sarwar thoroughly debunked two of Bill Maher and Sam Harris' go-to Islam talking points.While the HuffPo title emphasizes Maher, the "facts" of both myths are actually pushed most forcefully by Harris. However, that may be besides the point since the points are made during Maher's show, where Harris serves as the comedian's scholarly sidekick.  I'll post a short portion of it here, but you really should take the time to go and read the who … [Read more...]

Disturbed Christian, devout Muslim?

I dont even know

Murder often functions as a cultural Rorschach test: the narratives we tell about why people kill often reveal more about ourselves than the killers. Thus begins the best article I have read about religious prejudice all year. The Religion Dispatches piece, titled "In OK, a 'Christian' and a 'Muslim' decapitation challenge 'religious' violence narrative," compares the reactions to two decapitation cases that occurred within a few weeks of each other in Oklahoma.First there is the September c … [Read more...]

Maher debate continues in The New York Times

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For the last few weeks, we've been covering the controversial criticism of Islam expressed across several episodes of Bill Maher's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.Two weeks ago, Maher criticized the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics[1. I was the president of this group while I was an undergraduate.] for siding, "in the name of multiculturalism" with people who "hold down women and violate them," because they co-signed a letter along with 30 other organizations criticizing an in … [Read more...]

Vox on islamophobia: It’s not just Maher

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Max Fisher at Vox has a long and refreshing look at Islamophobia in the media. He lays out the fundamental problem: Because 38 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is Muslim, most of us rely on the media to shape our opinions of Muslims and of Islam. And the media is badly failing in its responsibilities to portray Muslims carefully and accurately. It has forgotten Bush's entreaty [to embrace Muslim Americans and Islam with respect], leaving Americans more ignorant about a … [Read more...]

Islam isn’t a race, and so what?

By SUSANNE KAPPLER, Fort Jackson Leader (United States Army) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"It's gross, it's racist, it's nasty." This is how Ben Affleck recently described Bill Maher and Sam Harris's attitudes toward Islam on last weekend's Real Time with Bill Maher.We've argued a few times before that certain views on Islam can be bigoted, and in fact resemble many other forms of bigotry. What seems most controversial, though, is the suggestion that islamophobic views might be racist. When Richard Dawkins was accused of racism last year after the following comment on tw … [Read more...]

Prejudice doesn’t look beyond anecdotes, but we should

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I recently reread Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's "Morality Without God,"[1. ref Sinnott-Armstrong is a philosophy professor at Duke, and I collaborate with him on a few projects.] a short and spectacularly nuanced look at religion and morality. While addressing arguments against the moral character of atheists, he manages to address a logical mistake many atheists seem to make in discussing religion. He reports a funny anecdote: When Evelyn Waugh converted to catholicism, a fellow believer is said t … [Read more...]