Council on American Islamic Relations

In era of Donald Trump, is it true Muslim scholars are no longer split on ethics of voting?

In era of Donald Trump, is it true Muslim scholars are no longer split on ethics of voting?

In an election year in which Donald Trump won't shut up about Muslims, I find stories about Muslim voters intriguing.

Just recently, I wrote a post highlighting Muslims who actually — gasp! — plan to vote for Trump.

The latest piece that caught my attention is the lead item on today's roundup of religion headlines by the Pew Research Center (sign up here for this great resource).

From the beginning, the NPR story relies on a bunch of generalities — Islamophobia, anyone? — while failing to provide concrete details that explain or amplify the specific claims made:

In an election year filled with anti-Muslim vitriol, some mosques are urging their worshipers to vote in an attempt to make their voices heard. To do so, they're borrowing a strategy used by African-American churches and organizing "souls to the polls" campaigns.
Many mosques have traditionally shunned politics. As recently as the late 1990s, Muslim scholars were divided on the ethics of voting. For years, it was common for many Muslim-Americans to not exercise their voting rights. But this year, three of Nashville's biggest mosques are busing worshipers to the polls. The organizers say this is more about demonstrating the importance of voting than providing transportation.

Now, NPR never mentions Trump in this report — but I can't help but think "anti-Muslim vitriol" might be a reference to the Republican presidential nominee.

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Another press perplexity: So who speaks for Muslims in the United States?

Another press perplexity: So who speaks for Muslims in the United States?

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is an awkwardly but accurately named alliance formed in 1955 to give the nation’s variegated Jews a united voice on key matters. Reportedly the Eisenhower White House either originated or promoted the idea of an umbrella group to make life simpler for everybody. The New York City-based conference encompasses 55 groups, communal, political and religious, and pretty much includes all sectors of Jewish life except the stricter forms of Orthodoxy, Hasidism and the anti-Zionist sects.

With less media notice than it deserves, a similar U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations was established in Washington, D.C., in 2014 with a constituency of 19 religious and communal groups.

At the moment, USCMO is no place for busy reporters to do their one-stop shopping to obtain quick, representative quotes and handy background info. However, if it can consolidate support this is certainly an organization to watch. USCMO says its purposes are “to build an active, integrated American Muslim community,” to “speak with one clear, communal voice” and to “support a national agenda for the entire Muslim community.”

These are tall orders given the numerous ethnicities and fiefdoms.

Founders include the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim American Society and The Mosque Cares, led by W. Deen Mohammed II, who is USCMO’s treasurer. Absent are factions seen as heterodox like the Ahmadiyyas, Moorish Science and Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, which embraces the black nationalism of Mohammed’s grandfather. The prominent Islamic Society of North America is not affiliated but has joined USCMO events. The list looks to be stronger on Sunni than Shi’a and Sufi representation.

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Media report a spike in anti-Muslim crime since San Bernardino — where's the hard data?

Media report a spike in anti-Muslim crime since San Bernardino — where's the hard data?

If you follow the news, you've probably seen a headline or two — or 50 — proclaiming that anti-Muslim crime has spiked since the San Bernardino massacre. Similar reports followed the Paris attacks.

The narrative of a backlash against Muslims makes sense, of course, given the Islamic extremist ties to last week's California massacre and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's strong rhetoric.

But from a journalistic perspective, where is the hard data? 

As #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches trended on Twitter back in July, we urged caution in the reporting:

A half-dozen church fires in such a short period sounds like a lot. But is it really? Journalists must be sure to put the fires — and the number of them — in context.

A similar dose of discretion would seem appropriate in the case of anti-Muslim incidents.

Instead, many journalists seem to be quite comfortable equating anecdotal evidence with a solid trend.

Take the Los Angeles Times, for instance:

Attacks on mosques appear to have become more frequent and threats against Muslims more menacing since the terrorist attacks in Paris and the shooting in San Bernardino.
“A pigs head at a mosque in Philadelphia, a girl harassed at a school in New York, hate mail sent to a New Jersey mosque … I can’t event count the amount of hate mail and threats we have received,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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How 'bout a little context to go with outrage over Muslims in Veterans Day parade?

How 'bout a little context to go with outrage over Muslims in Veterans Day parade?

Daily journalism is tough. Reporters face time constraints, space limitations and competing demands.

Here in the easy world of Monday (or Friday) morning media-critique-quarterbacking, it's easy to forget those realities.

Still — while acknowledging all of the above — a news story in today's Tulsa World frustrated me.

What irritated me about this story? Mainly, how little information the World gave me.

This is the lede:

For the first time, Oklahoma Muslims will have a float in the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Tulsa on Nov. 11, and not all parade participants are happy about it.

How many parade participants are not happy about it?

Just one, it appears based on the story:

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Surprise? Non-alcohol-serving Muslim flight attendant gets respectful media treatment

Surprise? Non-alcohol-serving Muslim flight attendant gets respectful media treatment

With all the coverage of the embattled Rowan County, Ky.  clerk recently released from jail after she refused to process same-sex marriages, it was inevitable that we would be hearing about protests from similar protagonists.

There are all sorts of people of faith caught in sticky employment situations where what they’re being asked to do is not precisely what they signed up for when they accepted the job.

As GetReligion has reported quite recently, reporters have had problems getting the facts right plus the degree of snark and outright hostility towards people such as Kim Davis has, at times, been so over the top. Our own Terry Mattingly passed along M.Z. "GetReligionista emeritus" Hemingway's bold use of term “slut-shaming” to describe it.

And so, what happens when someone from a different faith entirely makes a similar argument? Does that change the journalistic equation? Here’s what the Huffington Post said about a Muslim flight attendant suspended for not serving alcoholic beverages:

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Define 'Islamist' and please be specific

Last week, the people who produce the Associated Press Stylebook issued a few revisions. One of them was for the term “Islamist.” It used to read:

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