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Muslim Americans Convene Scholars in Mauritania to Discuss Religious Minorities’ Rights

ISNA, a leading American Muslim organization is labeled by Islamophobes as a “Muslim Brotherhood” front organization that is trying to Islamize and take over America through stealth jihad.

So I guess the following promotion of religious freedom in a Muslim majority nation would blow their minds away, I guess they can always use the fallback conspiracy theory of taqiyyah (h/t: Murat):

Muslim Americans Convene Scholars in Mauritania to Discuss Religious Minorities’ Rights

Last week, ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and ISNA Director of Community Outreach Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi convened a small multilateral forum of scholars in Mauritania to discuss challenges faced by religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities around the world.  Since last year, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has dedicated substantial efforts to this issue.

As part of its mission, ISNA seeks to help represent the voice of diverse Muslim communities within the United States, as well as to represent an American voice within Muslim communities around the world.  Both goals require heightened attentiveness to issues of religious freedom and civil liberties, which we seek to address through positive interreligious partnerships both here in the U.S. and abroad.  As a result, we have become increasingly concerned not only about the challenges faced by Muslim minorities within the United States, but also those faced by religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities around the world.

Over recent years, we have heard numerous reports about serious violations of the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.  These incidents stand in stark contrast to the values and traditions of Islam.  Historically, when such circumstances arise which run counter to our Islamic theology, it has always been the role of Islamic scholars to intervene.  As such, the Islamic Society of North America, is currently working together with Muslim leaders worldwide to promote a mechanism for developing Islamic standards and protocols on religious freedom and the role of religious minorities in the Muslim-majority communities.  This effort is also in line with ISNA’s domestic priorities, because poor treatment of religious minorities in Muslim-majority communities also has a substantial and negative effect on the manner in which Muslim minorities are regarded and treated in the West.

To address this issue, ISNA has met with Muslim scholars and high-level government officials in several countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, to discuss the importance of elevating this issue to the forefront of scholarly discussion in the Muslim world.  We have also organized and participated in several events, including a symposium with Georgetown University’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding this past May in Washington, DC.

The meeting last week was hosted by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, Vice Chair of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, in his new Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  Participants included Dr. Nourredine al-Khademi, Tunisian Minister of Religious Affairs; Dr. Ahmed Toufiq, Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowment; Mr. Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Dr. Ahmed Ould Neini, Mauritanian Minister of Islamic Affairs; Dr. Abderrazak Juessoum, President of the Algerian Muslim Scholars Association; and other prominent scholars.  The scholars also met with President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania to brief him on the purpose of their visit to Mauritania and the goal of their project.  The President was very supportive and offered the scholars his assistance facilitating the development of solutions to this enormous challenge.

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  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Yeah, sex slavery exists in Europe too. And yes, I would still call it slavery. Seems more like you are the one straining for some explanation. And while they are usually prosecuted, that’s not always the case. Especially when it comes to whities selling non-white women into slavery. Remember when Joran van der Sloot got wrapped up in sex trafficking and underaged prostitution in Thailand? He was selling the girls to the Netherlands for something like $13,000 according to one report, but the Dutch authorities bent over backwards NOT to prosecute him.

    As I pointed out earlier, slavery IS illegal in Mauritania, and it has been for several years. The fact is that they are working against thousands of years of tradition. Pre-Islamic tradition too I might add, since like I said before, almost every African culture has had slavery well into the historic period. People don’t (and sometimes can’t) testify against slave owners, making it difficult to prosecute. Unlike South Africa, Mauritania is still a largely nomadic, pastoralist culture. And, more to the point, they aren’t smuggling slaves into the country. Most slaves there are slaves because they were BORN into a slave caste. And its not a white/black thing either, since the Pula and other peoples never went through slavery. Pula even owned slaves historically.

    Same thing goes for other non-Muslim countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Uganda. Slavery there is rooted in far older traditions, especially for the Dahomey and Yoruba peoples. And yes, Ghana and Nigeria are modern countries and also have sex trafficking, which you don’t seem to consider slavery for some reason. Anyway, they also have other, more traditional kinds of slavery as well. If you want to talk about slavery and human rights violations, by all means go ahead, but these problems are not exclusively Muslim…

    In fact, I would argue the US has slavery to this day. Ever read up on the women who work in the sweatshops in Saipan, in the Marianas Islands? The women there are raped, undergo forced abortions, and make so little money that they are constantly in debt to the factory owners and other parasites. All so that they can make cheap clothing that says ‘Made in the USA’ (which it is, but only by technicality, as it is a US Commonwealth). Ironically, Christian fundies and right wing lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay were behind some of the worst abuses:

    http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/05/09/sex_greed_and_forced_abortions.php

  • Géji

    @Proverb Says:

    1 – “South Africa, like many Western nations, …. That’s the BIG difference between these states and quite a number of Muslim states.”

    2 – “South Africa, like many Western nations, ….. That’s the difference between these states and some Muslim states.”

    LOL, apparently we have an admirer/copycat Black-Sahib on our hand! Proverb I’ll trust you’ll look-up the definition of a … “Sahib”!

  • Proverb

    @ Wanderer

    Sex slavery happens in Europe – read some European papers for a change. Are you now going to claim that Europe practices slavery???

    South Africa, like many Western nations, actually prosecutes these crimes. There’s also a clear public policy against sexual slavery in these countries.

    That’s the difference between these states and some Muslim states.

  • Proverb

    @ Zakariya Ali Sher,

    You clearly have no clue what you’re talking about. Sex TRAFFICKING, human trafficking (which include criminal elements attempting to circumvent the law) and the sanction of slavery are TWO completely different things.

    Using your warped logic, then Europe practices slavery as there’s plenty of sex trafficking and plenty of sex slaves are trafficked INTO Europe.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3071965/ns/us_news-only_on_msnbc_com/t/infiltrating-europes-shameful-trade-human-beings/

    South Africa, like many Western nations, has no slavery. These states not only outlaw slavery, but also actively pursue and prosecute those who engage in it as it is CLEARLY against public policy and public norms. That’s the BIG difference between these states and quite a number of Muslim states.

    Again, thank you for the laugh…

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    @ Proverb:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1952335,00.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1037215.stm

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/sa-s-major-destination-point-for-sex-slaves-1.422803#.UBamJaC2SuI

    South Africa is a great country, don’t get me wrong, but its still a developing country and still faces a lot of problems. Poverty, racism, radical economic differences between rich and poor, urban and rural, white and black (and Coloured, Asian, etc). And this is all exacerbated by the problems in neighboring countries like Zimbabwe and Moçambique.

    What’s funny is that Proverb acts like somehow South Africa is unique on the continent, and that only Muslim-majority nations up north can somehow commit human rights violations. The funny thing is, plenty of Christian nations can (and do) have abysmal human rights records. Rwanda has the genocide, Congo has had two civil wars, Uganda has the anti-gay bill and the Lord’s Resistance Army… But of course I don’t expect that he will even bother to read the above articles, all of which are quite recent.

  • Wanderer

    Proverb

    If you’re South African, then you must be middle class. Sex slavery especially is a problem here. Or do you think sex slavery doesn’t count?

    I am South African by the way.

  • Proverb

    @ Zakariya Ali Sher

    I know your post is utter tosh by the fact that you even imagine there’s is slavery in SOUTH AFRICA. LOL!!!! Thanks for the laugh…

  • nath

    @Zakariya Ali Sher “There are some 50 odd Muslim majority states today, give or take. How many of those have implemented any form of jizyah?… Muslims and non-Muslims live side by side in almost all of them.”

    Well, there’s no caliphate. & we are reminded over and over again that there are no “pure” Islamic states. It is true, however, that every Muslim majority nation fails spectacularly when it comes to human rights. This isn’t just at government level. There’s no shortage of abuse at street level, especially against minorities.

    “Might I ask how westerners tolerate apostates and polytheists?… by the time you grow up, intense social pressures exist to make sure that you are a Christian.”

    The West is largely secular. I can tell you there’s nigh zero pressure to be Christian.

    “but there is quite a bit of prejudice levelled against westerners who convert to Islam”

    We’ve reached the point where apostasy is not a capital offense. We don’t kill converts. In fact they’re free to attend universities, run for government, claim welfare–even leave Islam (as many converts do). All schools of Sunni jurisprudence agree on the death penalty for those who leave Islam. Yes, there may be some prejudice–just like there’s prejudice leveled against another ideology with questionable morality: Scientology.

    “If you want to call Islam a ‘supremacist religion,’ then what of Christianity, which makes blanket damnation of ALL non-Christians?”

    There’s no love for non Muslims in Islamic texts–maybe some “tolerance”, but by and large there’s blanket condemnation. There’s nothing equivalent to, say, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount or secular human rights charters of the 20-21st century (that grant freedom of religion, freedom to leave religion). Even the Islamic “ideal” merely “tolerates” monotheistic non Muslims.

    “I will say that there are no shortage of Christians who are flocking to work (and live) in Muslim majority nations, often where they can enjoy higher standards of living than in their home countries.”

    They get their education in the West (and Western universities are diverse melting pots of ideologies), and if they move to a Muslim majority nation, it’s usually via a Western corporation etc. There’s nothing intrinsically “Islamic” that gives them this so called higher standard of living.

    “but lets look at the big picture instead of pretending that Islam is somehow inferior.”

    The Islamic world has been in decline for 800 years. Every caliphate has failed–not one has survived, all eventually succumbed to external and internal strife–and now most Muslims across the globe live in abject poverty, serve foreign masters & suffer the tyranny of sectarian violence. I’m not saying Islam is the worst ideology out there; I’m saying it is not the best. Any ideology that grants a man the ability to have “right hand possessions” and/or slaves fails the leadership test. There has to be more out there. I’m not saying the West has all the answer. We’ve got a long way to go. Certainly society is changing and evolving. I want to be able to live side by side with all religions–pagans, atheists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc… and yes, even apostates. & I do. Islam can’t guarantee this.

  • Steve

    @Zakariya Ali Sher, in the UK we have politicians of many religions and no religion.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    I support the spirit of this, but I suspect it might go over better were it not in a country where slavery is still a problem. Of course, I don’t expect that many foreign Muslims to know that much about Mauritania, but its still something that should be addressed, and up front. And yes, I am aware that slavery has been fully outlawed since 2007, and that slavery in Mauritania has little to with Islam directly; it is a millennia old practice in every African culture, Muslim or not. Slavery still exists in some form or another in Mauritania, Sudan, Uganda, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Togo, Nigeria and plenty of other countries. That doesn’t change the fact that I resent it.

    @ Nath: There are some 50 odd Muslim majority states today, give or take. How many of those have implemented any form of jizyah? Muslims and non-Muslims live side by side in almost all of them. I will say that there are no shortage of Christians who are flocking to work (and live) in Muslim majority nations, often where they can enjoy higher standards of living than in their home countries. At least western Christians. Asian Christians get screwed over, just like the Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and even Asian Muslims so yeah…

    Might I ask how westerners tolerate apostates and polytheists? For all the much vaunted claims of ‘freedom of religion,’ religious freedom in the west seems to boil down to the freedom to be a Methodist or a Baptist. Maybe if you are really rebellious in your high school phase you might get away with being a Buddhist, or a Wiccan, or even reading LaVey’s Satanic Bible, but by the time you grow up, intense social pressures exist to make sure that you are a Christian. I am exaggerating slightly, but there is quite a bit of prejudice levelled against westerners who convert to Islam, let alone faiths like Hinduism, Sikhism or the like, making it extremely difficult for such individuals.

    Lets put it another way; how many pagan politicians do you know? How many Hindu politicians, outside of Asia that is? How many elected officials profess Islam, or Wicca? The fact is that neither America nor Europe offer true diversity of thought, nor would the populace accept such things. If you want to talk about the rights of minority populations, that is all well and good, but lets look at the big picture instead of pretending that Islam is somehow inferior. If you want to call Islam a ‘supremacist religion,’ then what of Christianity, which makes blanket damnation of ALL non-Christians?

  • nath

    “These incidents stand in stark contrast to the values and traditions of Islam.”

    How will Islam deal with polytheists, agnostics, atheists, apostates? Sure an Islamic state may tolerate other monotheists (that is if they submit to jizyah). But communities are far more complex and diverse these days. Things were much more black and white 800-1400 years ago; and the state had time (generations) to adapt to change. I firmly believe Islam is a supremacist religion. That said, not all Muslims are supremacists. I believe most cling un-apologetically to Locke when he argued that “neither Pagan, nor Mahometan, nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”

  • mindy1

    Good on them 😀

  • @Emperor

    Yet another thing debunking the “counter Jihadists.” Glad this happened regardless. I wonder how long it will be until Spencer, Geller et-tal shout “taqiyyah”

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