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President Obama’s Condemnation of Islamophobia is Admirable – and Overdue

Yesterday President Obama addressed thousands of American-Muslims at the Islamic Society of Baltimore during his first visit to a mosque in the United to condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“We applaud President Obama for his important demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim community – yet we also believe his speech is long overdue,” said Tanenbaum | Center for Interreligious Understanding CEO Joyce Dubensky. “In this climate of increasing religious bias and discrimination, he has taken an important step forward in demonstrating how respect can be put into practice, as modeled by our First Amendment.”

Tanenbaum said that as citizens, we should encourage our political leaders to unify divisions within Americans, including religious differences. Regarding the upcoming political election, Dubensky stated, “Regardless of political affiliation, it’s the responsibility of our next president to take an early stance against the stereotypes, hate and alienation that result when people think that terrorism and Islam are synonymous.”

Tanenbaum offers a range of educational curricula and other materials including its Combating Extremism resources, which help teachers and individuals address extremism constructively in classrooms and communities.

TV Station Backing Anti-Muslim Film Outed: News Roundup

In the news this week, anti-Muslim film puts Christian TV in global spotlight, new Egyptian Constitution offers fewer religious freedoms, Michele Bachmann's Chicago Synagogue visit drives attendees to leave, and other stories. 

The Way satellite TV channel in Los Angeles creates evangelical Christian programming that beams across the Arabic-speaking world. Until recently, the business was so anonymous that even city officials didn't know the television studio was operating there.

But that all changed a few weeks ago, when The Way was revealed as a key filming location for "Innocence of Muslims," whose YouTube trailer has sparked ongoing violent anti-American protests in dozens of cities throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The anti-Islam film has shed light on The Way and other U.S.-based, Arabic-language satellite TV stations whose programming is aimed at converting Muslims to Christianity. Though little noticed in the English-speaking world, the stations' programming had been controversial among Middle Eastern Christians and Muslims — both in the U.S. and abroad — long before the low-budget movie popularized their message. LA Times
 
Members of Egypt’s Constituent Assembly, the body tasked with drafting Egypt’s post-uprising constitution, are purportedly finished with drafting the chapter on the freedoms, rights and duties of citizens.

The assembly is largely seen as being dominated by Islamist forces, which have won large gains in legislative and presidential elections after the 2011 January Revolution.

Liberals and secularists have expressed concerns about the impact an Islamist-dominated drafting body will have on the character of the future charter, in particular in relation to key freedoms. Ahram Online

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) swung by a Chicago-area synagogue for a worship service on the eve of Yom Kippur last week, upsetting congregants and provoking one man to mount a campaign for her Democratic challenger before the end of the night, the Chicago Tribune reports.

According to the Tribune, Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue observed protocol by offering a customary greeting to Bachmann during the services. While elected officials are traditionally acknowledged during such events at the temple, the presence of the conservative Minnesota firebrand prompted particular displeasure.

A strong fundraiser and prominent Tea Party figurehead, Bachmann's congressional seat has long been thought of as secure. According to a recent poll, however, Bachmann's once large lead over Graves is now within the margin of error. The Huffington Post

Muslim worshipers are reeling from an arson fire at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, Ohio but are grateful for an outpouring of support from the local interfaith community.

Perrysburg Township police ruled that the Sunday evening (Sept. 30) fire was arson. Surveillance footage from the mosque shows a “person of interest” — a white middle-aged male wearing a camouflage sweatshirt and hat — at the mosque’s entrance shortly before the fire, which was reported about 5 p.m.

The Rev. Steve Anthony, executive director of Toledo Area Ministries, said he and his organization that represents 125 Christian churches and nonprofit agencies are outraged by the arson attack and will do what they can to help local Muslims. Religion News Service

Manhattan bank manager Grace Sung Eun Lee is paralyzed from the neck down, tethered to breathing and feeding tubes — but was able to mouth four words Wednesday. “I want to die.”

Doctors are trying to honor Lee’s wish, but her devout parents believe that removing the tubes is suicide — a sin that would condemn the 28-year-old to hell. They’ve gone to court to keep the terminally ill brain-cancer patient on life support, turning a heartbreaking family tragedy into a right-to-die legal battle.

The case has put medical ethics and religion on a collision course, with lawyers arguing in two courtrooms while the patient at the center of the fight can do little more than blink her eyes. New York Daily News