Ted Cruz campaign’s anti-Muslim propagandists called ‘terrifying’

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign is drawing extreme anti-Muslim propagandists into the mainstream of US politics, academics and Muslim civil rights groups are warning.

 

On Wednesday, Cruz inflamed the debate about so-called “homegrown” terrorism in America in the wake of the Brussels bombings by calling on law enforcement to“patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods”. The remarks came days after the Texas senator announced the appointment of his foreign policy advisory team that included some of the most outspoken Islamophobes of the post-9/11 period.

In the wake of the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks, much of the debate over terrorism within the US has been dominated by Donald Trump’s promise to ban all Muslims entering the country. The Republican’s proposal to close the borders to Muslims, among several of his other controversial policies, has prompted establishment GOP figures to swing behind Cruz as the “stop-Trump” candidate.

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Yet by rushing to Cruz’s aid, the Republican leadership is in danger of embracing a candidate who is even more extreme in his Islamophobic posturing than the current frontrunner. Cruz’s foreign policy team includes people who have called for all mosques to be shut down across America, claimed the country is being subverted by the Muslim Brotherhood and decried all followers of the Islamic faith as jihadists.

“This is more than worrying, it is terrifying,” said Nathan Lean, a specialist in Islamophobia at Georgetown University’s Bridge Institute. “Bringing such views into a presidential campaign inflames the anxieties of ordinary Americans and gives them license to amp up scrutiny and skepticism towards the Muslim community.”

The most prominent anti-Muslim among Cruz’s new set of advisers is Frank Gaffney, whose Washington-based thinktank the Center for Security Policy is listed by the monitoring group the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist organization devoted to conspiracy theories. A former defense official under President Reagan, Gaffney has long argued that the Egyptian-based Islamic movement the Muslim Brotherhood is actively undermining American society and government in a stealthy power grab that he calls “civilization jihad”.

Gaffney and his thinktank have gone so far as to accuse Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Hillary Clinton, of being in on the conspiracy. He has also been banned on more than one occasion from attending the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) after he claimed two of its board members were Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators.

A pamphlet published last year by the Center for Security Policy encouraged “ordinary Americans” to lobby their political representatives to put a stop to any more Muslim immigration. “Speak up against the opening of more mosques in your neighborhoods; they are literally the beachheads for the expanding Muslim population as it marks its expanding territory,” the thinktank said.

 

Gaffney’s ideas were not long ago considered to lie on the fringes of political discourse in America. But the Republican presidential debate has brought them steadily into the mainstream.

The first move to embrace Gaffney and bring him into the fold was made by Trump in his call to ban all Muslim immigration last December. In making his provocative announcement, Trump cited a discredited opinion poll published by the Center for Security Policy that claimed, without substantiation, that a quarter of all American Muslims believed that violence against their fellow citizens was justified “as part of global jihad”.

A month later the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, then still in the Republican race, invoked Gaffney’s theory of “civilization jihad” during a televised presidential debate.

But of all the Republican candidates, Cruz has gone the furthest. By officially appointing Gaffney, along with two other Center for Security Policy staff – Clare Lopez and Fred Fleitz – to his presidential campaign team he has gone some way to legitimizing a set of beliefs that had previously been regarded as cranky or marginal.

In 2013, at a public meeting in New Jersey, Lopez branded all Muslims as jihadists. “When people in bona fide religions follow their doctrines they become better people – but it’s Hindus, Christians and Jews. When Muslims follow their doctrine they become jihadists,” she said.

The Guardian invited the Cruz campaign and Frank Gaffney to comment on criticism of their relationship, but neither responded.

Cruz’s connections to Gaffney can be traced back at least to early 2014, a year after he joined the US senate. In January Cruz attended a Gaffney event called “American security and the Iranian bomb”.

From March 2014 both men attended a series of national security summits held by the right-wing website Breitbart, and last year Cruz spoke in person at an election event organized by Gaffney in South Carolina, and was beamed in by video at similar public meetings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The presidential candidate has also been a guest on Gaffney’s radio show, “secure freedom radio”, at least three times: in April 2014, and February and September 2015.

“It’s not surprising that Cruz and Gaffney have become close in the past couple of years,” said Stephen Piggott, senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “They have very similar world views in believing that radical Islam is the largest problem that America faces, and that every Muslim is a potential terrorist.”

Gaffney, Lopez and Fleitz are not the only controversial figures among Cruz’s new 23-strong crew of foreign policy advisers. Also on the team is Lt Gen Jerry Boykin, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the George W Bush administration.

Since retiring from the military in 2007 Boykin has been outspoken in his anti-Muslim opinions. Like Gaffney, he has touted the conspiracy theory that the American government has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and called for the eradication of all mosques in the US.

In 2012 Boykin told the Family Research Council, of which he is now a senior executive, that “by the middle of this century the continent of Europe will be an Islamic continent, and they can’t reverse it, they can’t stop it. It is because they took Jesus out of their societies and it’s been replaced by darkness.”

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, accused Cruz of “adding fuel to the fire” by elevating the opinions of Boykin, Gaffney and others to the level of trusted advisers. “These are dangerous times. I and my community are worried about the future – about what a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz administration would bring.”

 

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What is the Hijab and Why do Women Wear it?

Hijab is referred to by various names, some of the most common of which are a veil or a headscarf. Most Muslims who wear the covering call it a hijab (حجاب), an Arabic word meaning “cover.” However, there are various forms of hijab that are referred to by different names. While hijab is commonly associated with women, Muslim men also sometimes wear a head covering as a means of showing modesty. Additionally, Christian and Jewish women in some traditions wear a headscarf as a cultural practice or commitment to modesty or piety.

 

 

What are the various kind of hijab?

 

Hijab ( حجاب): The first type of hijab that is most commonly worn by women in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face clear. This form of hijab is most commonly referred to as hijab.

 

 

Shayla: The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf that is wrapped loosely around the head and tucked or pinned at the shoulders. Like the hijab and al-amira, this form of hijab covers the head but often leaves the neck and face clear.

 

Khimar ( خمار): The khimar is a long, cape-like scarf that is wrapped around the head and hangs to the middle of the back. This type of hijab covers the head, neck, and shoulders, but leaves the face clear.

Chador ( تشادر): The chador is a long cloak that covers a woman’s entire body. Like the khimar, the chador wraps around the head, but instead of hanging just to the middle of back, the chador drapes to a woman’s feet.

Niqāb ( نقاب): The niqab is a face-covering that covers the mouth and nose, but leaves the eyes clear. It is worn with an accompanying khimar or other form of head scarf.

Burqa ( برقع ): The burqa covers the entire face and body, leaving a small mesh screen through which the woman can see through.

Why do women wear hijab?

Muslim women choose to wear the hijab or other coverings for a variety of reasons. Some women wear the hijab because they believe that God has instructed women to wear it as a means of fulfilling His commandment for modesty. For these women, wearing hijab is a personal choice that is made after puberty and is intended to reflect one’s personal devotion to God. In many cases, the wearing of a headscarf is often accompanied by the wearing of loose-fitting, non-revealing clothing, also referred to as hijab.

While some Muslim women do not perceive the hijab to be obligatory to their faith, other Muslim women wear the hijab as a means of visibly expressing their Muslim identity (Haddad, et al, 2006). In the United States, particularly since 9/11, the hijab is perceived to be synonymous with Islam. Some Muslim women choose to appropriate this stereotype and wear the hijab to declare their Islamic identity and provide witness of their faith. Unfortunately this association has also occasionally resulted in the violent assaults of Muslim women wearing hijab.

While most Muslim women wear the hijab for religious reasons, there are other Arab or Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab as an expression of their cultural identity. By wearing the hijab, Muslim women hope to communicate their political and social alliance with their country of origin and challenge the prejudice of Western discourses towards the Arabic-speaking world (Zayzafoon, 2005). In many cases, the wearing of the hijab is also used to challenge Western feminist discourses which present hijab-wearing women as oppressed or silenced.

Why do some Muslim women not wear the hijab?

Like the women who choose to wear the hijab, those who choose not to wear the hijab do so for a variety of reasons. Some Muslim women believe that although the principles of modesty are clearly outlined in the Qu’ran, they perceive the wearing of the headscarf as a cultural interpretation of these scriptures. These women sometimes believe that the values espoused by the wearing of the headscarf can be achieved in other ways. Some women believe that while the hijab allowed women in the past to engage in public society without garnering attention, the headscarf in contemporary Western society brings more attention to women and is thus contradictory to its original purpose. Others believe that the hijab and other external practices have become inappropriately central to the practice of Islam, and instead choose to focus on their internal and spiritual relationship with God.

While some women might choose not to wear the hijab, most Muslim women agree that it is a woman’s choice whether or not she wears the hijab. Many Muslim and Arab women who have chosen not to wear the hijab are often staunch advocates of a woman’s right to choose to veil.

SXSW apologizes after ordering U.S. Olympic fencer to remove hijab

Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USA fencing athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait during the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at Beverly Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-266172 ORIG FILE ID:  20160309_rvr_usa_401.jpg
Mar 9, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USA fencing athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad poses for a portrait during the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at Beverly Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-266172 ORIG FILE ID: 20160309_rvr_usa_401.jpg

Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is poised to be the first U.S. Olympian to wear a hijab, said she was told to remove her headscarf for a security photo at the  South by Southwest festival on Saturday and then was given a credential with an incorrect name.

Muhammad, who wears the hijab for religious purposes and has become a prominent U.S. athlete with sponsors such as Visa and American Airlines, tweeted the incident in disdain as she was forced to remove it.

The incident does not look good for SXSW, which prides itself on being an annual cultural showpiece in Austin, Texas. SXSW said in a public statement: “It is not our policy that a hijab or any religious head covering be removed in order to pick up a SXSW badge. This was one volunteer who made an insensitive request and that person has been removed for the duration of the event. We are embarrassed by this and have apologized to Ibtihaj in person, and sincerely regret this incident.”

 

 

Muhammad, 30, is ranked No. 7 in the world and second in the U.S. in saber, according to the USA Fencing website.

According to the Chicago Tribune, after the check-in incident, she was on a panel called “The New Church: Sport as Currency of American Life.” She told the audience, the Tribune reported: “”I had a crappy experience checking in. Someone asking me to remove my hijab isn’t out of the norm for me. … Do I hope it changes soon? Yes, every day.”

The Tribune also reported that she said of sponsors who might object to her speaking out: “If a sponsor wants to walk away … they weren’t meant for me anyway.”

Students asked to remove hijab to write SSC exam in Maharashtra

A few  hijab-wearing students on Thursday, March 3, were not allowed to sit for a Staff Selection Commission (SSC) exam at a Byculla school in Maharashtra despite knowing that the Maharashtra board allows students to wear the veil in the examination hall. The incident disappointed the family members of those girl students.

“Taking off the hijab meant my sister had to write an exam in a night wear,” said the brother of one of the students. The girls were refused to step inside the examination hall by a woman invigilator, as mentioned in a newspaper report

 

In the wake of this humiliation, the students’ families contacted the board helpline number, where they got a confirmation that “students can take the exam wearing the hijab.” Following this, Siddheshwar Chandekar, secretary of the board’s Mumbai division, said, “There is no rule in the state board that disallows students from wearing hijabs or burkhas.”

Moreover, the families went to the National Students Union of India (NSUI) whose representative immediately contacted the principal of the school post examination.

“The principal apologised for her mistake and she said that had been appointed to the post recently and hence was unaware of the rules,” said Heena Kanojia, national co-ordinator, NSUI, according to an HT report.

According to media reports, this is not the first time that the students of the school have faced this trouble. In 2014, a similar incident took place, when  around 40 girls were punished for taking a leave at Lailat al-Qadr, an occasion when Muslims devotees pray whole night.

 

Will America’s Olympic Flag Bearer Be Wearing a Hijab?

Growing up, in Maplewood, New Jersey, where her father was a narcotics detective and her mother a special-education teacher, Ibtihaj Muhammad competed in softball, tennis, volleyball, and track. “In our family, you didn’t have a choice of whether to play sports,” she told me. “You only had a choice of what sports you played.” The family philosophy was that athletics enabled the four girls and one son to better confront discrimination.

Double discrimination, actually. “We’re African-American and we’re Muslim,” Ibtihaj’s mother, Inayah Muhammad, told me. “I’m an educator. I know how important it is for kids to be a part of the community. Sports helps them integrate. Families and fans always unite around teams.”

But, for the girls, team uniforms didn’t cover hair or bodies, as required by their faith. Instead of shorts, Ibtihaj (whose name means “Joy”) wore baggy sweatpants for tennis and track, long loose shirts and leggings for volleyball, and a head scarf, known as a hijab, for them all. She was frequently teased, sometimes harassed. Then, when she was twelve, she and her mother happened to drive past a local high school and saw, through the windows of the cafeteria, students engaging in an unfamiliar sport.

“I didn’t know what it was,” her mother recalled. “But I knew how they were dressed.” The girls wore full-body suits, and helmets that covered their hair. The sport was fencing, and Ibtihaj—her friends call her Ibti—began competing at thirteen. “I’m not sure I fell in love with it at first,” she said. “But I’m really goal-oriented. And when you come from a large family you have to be creative about getting scholarships to college.” She helped her high-school team win two state championships. She still had a hard time winning public acceptance, however.

“When I was young, fencing was a white sport in New Jersey,” she said. “Not many people looked like me. There were no role models. When I competed in local tournaments, there were often comments about me—being black, or being Muslim. It hurt.” She was in advanced-placement English class, in high school, on September 11, 2001. After the second tower of the World Trade Center fell, teachers were instructed to turn off the televisions. Her brother and other Muslim boys were taken from their classrooms to another part of the school. “We still don’t know why,” she told me. “That night, there was panic in my house.”

Her mother recalled, “9/11 impacted everyone. The children were ostracized and targeted. People shouted at me when I drove down the street.”

For college, Muhammad looked at ten universities with fencing programs that could provide financial support. She ended up on a partial academic scholarship at Duke, where she specialized in the sabre and was named All-American three times. A torn hand ligament prevented her from qualifying for the 2012 Olympic team, but she recovered and has since won several medals, including a team silver medal at a World Cup event, in 2013, and a team gold medal at the World Fencing Championship in Russia, in 2014. In January, she qualified for this year’s Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro. She’ll be the first Muslim American Olympian to compete wearing a hijab.

Muhammad’s refusal to be limited by what she wears also turned her into an entrepreneur. Two years ago, she and her siblings launched Louella, a clothing line named after their grandmother. She designs; her brother runs production out of Los Angeles. The clothes, some of which she models in Instagram posts, are a mixture of elegant and hip—loose-fitting tunics in rich colors over skinny jeans. They could sell at Chico’s. In the catalogue, some women wear a hijab, others don’t. In 2015, Louella released what Muhammad called the “Modesty” sweatshirt, inscribed in gold with the motto “Everything Is Better in Hijab.”

Her achievements have not eased the challenges. “I’ve flown to domestic competitions,” Muhammad said, “and T.S.A. agents at airports have spoken to me in demeaning ways, as if I’m foreign, because I wear hijab: ‘Do—you—speak—English?’

“How do people like this exist?” she asked, more in disbelief than in anger. “I’m productive, educated, and representing my country at the Olympics, but they question where I belong.” She continued, “People regularly avoid eye contact. Imagine walking into a room and someone avoids looking at you. As a religious and ethnic minority, I never know what the hangup is. It happens all the time. It’s the norm.”

The Team U.S.A. Web site has a page devoted to Muhammad, which notes her seven World Cup team-event medals. In the comments section, a woman wrote, “What a disgrace. This is disgusting. . . . Are you proud of the whole world being destroyed by moslems too? . . . Moslems do NOT represent America.”

The 2015 attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, inspired by the Islamic State, heightened anti-Muslim feeling. Hate crimes, big and small, tripled within a month of San Bernardino. A Muslim taxi-driver was shot in Pittsburgh. Mosques were set on fire. A Muslim woman attending a town meeting in West Bloomfield, Michigan, was jeered as “a terrorist, a rapist, a murderer, and booed,” she said, “and the worst part is that about ninety per cent of the people cheered.” The Islamic Center in Omaha was vandalized for the fourth time. In the Bronx, three boys punched a sixth-grade girl and pulled off her hijab. In Queens, a Muslim shop owner was beaten by a man ranting anti-Islam slurs. In South Salt Lake, Utah, a swastika was spray-painted on a pastry shop owned by a Muslim. In February, the Pew Research Center reported that one in four Americans surveyed believe that at least half the Muslims in the United States—there are now some 3.3 million—are anti-American. One in ten polled think all Muslims living in the United States are anti-American.

“I can’t walk around late by myself anymore or go see friends at night,” Muhammad told me. As an African-American, she worries about asking authorities for help. “We’re living through a really crazy moment, a time when a lot of minorities are afraid to call the police,” she said. Last month, she was with a group harassed by men in a pizza parlor, as police officers stood nearby. “I was surprised that they weren’t saying anything to these men—even just ‘Leave them alone.’ I thought about saying, ‘Excuse me, officer,’ then I was afraid it might escalate. So I didn’t say anything.”

Tensions increased after Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Two days after his speech, Muhammad wrote on her Facebook page, “Never let another person’s misconceptions about your race, gender or religion hinder you from reaching your goals.” She also tweeted, “Friends don’t let friends like Trump.” In anonline interview with AOL Build, she said, “I owe to it other minorities and to the Muslim community to use my position and speak out against bigotry and hate.”

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower dedicated the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., and vowed that Muslims were welcome “under the American Constitution and in American hearts . . . just as welcome as any other religion.” Six days after the September 11, 2001, attacks, President George W. Bush visited the center and declared, “Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That’s not the America I know.” Until recently, President Barack Obama had shied away from grand gestures toward the American Muslim community. (A CNN/Opinion Research poll last September found that forty-three per cent of Republicans, twenty-nine per cent of independents, and fifteen per cent of Democrats actually believe that Obama, despite his professed Christianity, is Muslim.) But in February the President spoke at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, and invited ten prominent Muslims to meet with him for an hour and a half before the speech. The group included a heart surgeon, a senior at Yale, a California attorney, leaders of nonprofit organizations, two imams, and Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad said that they all spoke candidly about the prejudices they face. The President listened closely.

In his speech, the President pointed out the role Muslims have played in building America, beginning with slaves brought from Africa during Colonial times who brought their faith. “Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths—and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now—‘the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan,’ ” Obama said. Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran; Benjamin Franklin offered a pulpit if the Mufti of Constantinople would send a missionary to preach. “Muslim Americans worked on Henry Ford’s assembly line, cranking out cars. A Muslim American designed the skyscrapers of Chicago,” Obama said. “Some rest in Arlington National Cemetery.” He went on, “We can’t be bystanders to bigotry. And together, we’ve got to show that America truly protects all faiths.”

Muhammad was moved. “To have a sitting President address concerns of the American Muslim community is groundbreaking, and what we need,” she told me. “The start of a discourse is really important.”

At one point in his speech, Obama mentioned some notable Muslim American athletes—Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon. “And, by the way,” he added, “when Team U.S.A. marches into the next Olympics, one of the Americans waving the red, white, and blue will be a fencing champion, wearing her hijab—Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is here today. I told her to bring home the gold.” Then the President looked across at her in the audience and said, smiling, “Not to put any pressure on you.”

France’s earliest ‘Muslim burials’ found

Researchers have identified what may be the earliest Muslim burials in France.

The three skeletons unearthed at Nimes show indications of Islamic burial rites and are thought to date to the eighth century AD.

A team used DNA, radiocarbon dating and archaeological analysis to show the individuals may have been North African soldiers from a brief occupation of southern France by an Islamic army.

Details of the analysis are published in the journal Plos One.

In each of the three graves, the bodies were placed on their right-hand sides facing south-east – in the direction of Mecca. The way the burial pit was dug, with a lateral niche closed off by slabs or stones also corresponds to a traditional Islamic burial practice.

Analysis of the skeletons reveals that two of the three males were in their late twenties or early thirties, while the other was about 50 years of age.

Radiocarbon dating of all three burials gave age ranges within the 7th and 8th centuries.

The scientists also carried out genetic analysis on the remains. They found that the Y chromosome DNA from all three males belonged to a type very common in Berbers from North Africa, but largely absent from Europe, including France.

Mitochondrial DNA – which is passed down from a mother to her offspring – from one of the younger males also belonged to a specifically African lineage. But mitochondrial DNA from the other two burials belonged to types that are found both in Europe and North Africa.

In their Plos One paper, the team from the University of Bordeaux and France’s Inrap archaeological centre, propose how the apparently Muslim individuals came to be in southern France at this time.

 

In the early 8th Century, Nimes was part of the Visigothic Kingdom, comprising the territory of present-day Spain, Portugal and south-eastern France (Septimania).

But in 711, Muslim troops invaded the Iberian Peninsula and rapidly conquered the territories held by the Visigoths, crossing the eastern Pyrenees into what is now France in 719.

This army, representing the medieval Umayyad Caliphate may have established alliances with the local population against a common enemy from the north: the Franks, a Germanic people who later gave their name to France.

Co-author Yves Gleize and colleagues propose that the three individuals were troops in this conquering Umayyad army, possibly as part of a local garrison.

“The joint archaeological, anthropological and genetic analysis of three early medieval graves at Nimes provides evidence of burials linked with Muslim occupation during the 8th Century,” said Dr Gleize.

The next earliest Muslim burials in France are from the 13th Century in Marseille.

Unmarried Muslim couple publicly caned in Indonesia for spending time alone together

INDONESIA: Eighteen people were publicly caned Tuesday for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia’s Aceh province, including a young unmarried couple who were caught spending time alone together.

A hooded man meted out lashings with a rattan cane on a stage next to the mosque in Banda Aceh, the capital of the western province, in front of a large, cheering crowd.

Indonesian city reprimands Muslim hardliners for harassing gays

A 19-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man were caned eight times each after they were found spending time alone together, which is against the law for unmarried Muslim couples in the province.

Public caning happens on a regular basis in Aceh, the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to implement Islamic Sharia law, but is less common for women.

Six young men were also caned 40 times each after they were caught drinking alcohol, which violates Islamic law, at a birthday party in a hotel room in December.

Authorities did not disclose the offences committed by the rest of the group, who were all men.

Aceh began implementing sharia law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

Indonesian pilot grounded for ‘offering hostess as compensation’

Islamic laws have been strengthened since the province struck a peace deal with the central government in 2005.

More than 90 per cent of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practice a moderate form of the faith.

Muslim Migrants storm Greece/Macedonia border

Spring is in the air. And the hordes return.

Greece has recalled its ambassador from Austria.

Greek Olympic stadium has now been turned into refugee camp (see second video).

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the EU risks turning his country into a refugee “warehouse” unless other nations in the bloc share the burden of the migrant crisis. Athens says it will block future EU agreements if the refugee problem isn’t shared.

“Refugees storm border fence in Macedonia, face tear gassing by police,” RT, 29 Feb, 2016:

Macedonian police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of refugees, who tried to storm the fence on the country’s border with Greece.

The crowd, frustrated with restrictions imposed on travel through the Balkans, tore down the metal gate with a pole before the tear gas was deployed, Reuters cited an eyewitness as reporting.

 

The confrontation in Idomeni, a small border community, follows a crush of asylum seekers who rushed toward the border after a rumor spread that the Macedonian authorities had opened the border for several hours. They were angered to find the rumor was not true and demanded to be let in.

 

The confrontation in Idomeni, a small border community, follows a crush of asylum seekers who rushed toward the border after a rumor spread that the Macedonian authorities had opened the border for several hours. They were angered to find the rumor was not true and demanded to be let in.

At least 22,000 refugees have been stranded in Greece, the primary destination for people fleeing violence and economic hardship in the Middle East and North Africa. The clog was caused by other countries restricting access to refugees, who want to pass them on their way to wealthier North European countries.

– See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2016/02/muslim-migrants-storm-greece-macedonia-border.html/#sthash.jVB7juBl.dpuf

 

Is Hijab An Obstacle for Muslim Women Living In Canada?

When I made the decision to move to Canada, I was terrified. I feared that I would not be able to get used to life here. It was less a factor of the differences in culture and language, and more due to the fact that I wear the hijab. My scarf is a symbol of Islam, a religion considered by the West as the religion of terrorism. I was haunted by anxiety.

Would people there accept me with my hijab? Would they talk to me or would they be afraid of me? How would I pursue my education and achieve my dreams, while people judge me based on stereotypes they get from the media? I tried to find answers to these questions, and I asked everyone I thought might have an answer, to no avail. I realized then that only experience would give me an answer.

En route to Canada, at Heathrow Airport to be exact, a woman stopped me and complimented me on my hijab, saying it was very pretty. I cannot describe how much her words calmed me down and warmed my heart. The compliment boosted my confidence in myself and my hijab, and reassured me.

 

Once I arrived in Canada, my fear slowly started to fade. I didn’t feel that my hijab was causing any problems for me. On the contrary, it was something that distinguished me from other people. People would often compliment me on it, which made me happy. I was unintentionally showing them that the hijab did not make a woman ugly or scary.

In general, Canadians are loving people. They’re always smiling, and they don’t give off a racist vibe. I’ve encountered no trouble living with them. As I walk down the street, Canadian people stop me with a broad smile and greet me with the Islamic greeting, “Salam Aleykum” (Peace).

I do not deny that after the Paris attacks, extremists have attacked Muslims in a number of Canadian cities. However, the way Canadians treat me hasn’t changed. On the contrary, I have started to notice, after those attacks, that the Canadians I meet acknowledge that there is great gap between Muslims and terrorism. They are aware that Islam has no relationship to terrorists, who have no religion. Canadians know that we hate terrorism as much as they do.

Now, after spending around four years living in Canada, I have come to realize that the hijab is one of the values I hold dear. I chose it based on love and conviction, and I have been wearing it since I turned 12, so how could I not defend my hijab and my right to wear it? How could I feel ashamed of it, when after those four years, I have become completely convinced that my hijab boosts, rather than undermines, my success. I have become convinced that the strength of my values and the confidence I have in my choices make people accept and admire my hijab, whether or not they’re familiar with seeing it.

I currently study among Canadians and enjoy the same rights they enjoy. I do not sense any discrimination or racism. They treat me gently, lovingly, and compassionately. In my opinion, success is not limited to the individual’s personal and practical life. It is much deeper and broader than that. Success is about serving your society and your religion. These are the nobler goals that I am pursuing.

There is no doubt that wearing the hijab places a huge responsibility on Muslim women in the West. The hijab is a symbol of Islam. It conveys Islamic morals and paints the true picture of Islam. A Canadian person recently told me that when she sees a woman wearing the hijab, she is immediately reminded of whiteness, purity, decency and righteousness. This has shown me that many educated Westerners have a good understanding of Islam. They know that we are not terrorists

The hijab is a responsibility on the shoulders of a Muslim woman because it announces that she is a Muslim. For example, when my husband goes to work everyday, no one can tell that he’s a Muslim. This gives him the freedom to behave as he wishes. If he behaved badly, it would not be attributed to Islam. But if I was with him, everyone would know he was a Muslim. This means we always have to watch out for our behavior, so that we don’t ruin people’s impression of Muslims.

I am writing this to reassure every young woman who wants to come to Canada, but is afraid that her hijab would be an obstacle to her living her life freely and achieving her dreams fully. This is my message: Trust your hijab. Overcome your fear. Be true to your principles. The West respects and values people of principle. If success is your goal, you will succeed.

So do not let the hijab be an obstacle. Let it be an incentive. Prove to everyone that women wearing hijab can become whatever they want and can achieve their dreams.

 

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/baraah-zahran/is-hijab-an-obstacle-_b_9355880.html