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Israeli flag taken down in Ohio following protests from Muslims
The mayor of a Columbus, Ohio, suburb has agreed to take down an Israeli flag that flew for a day from the city's flagpole. The flag had been flown as part of the "Days of Remembrance," a national commemoration of the mass killing of Jews in Europe during World War II.
Mayor Jim McGregor of Gahanna, Ohio, took the flag down after meeting with representatives of the CAIR's Ohio chapter (CAIR-OHIO), Arab Americans of Central Ohio, the Islamic Society of Greater Columbus, the Islamic Foundation of Central Ohio, and the Muslim Student Association.
"We want to thank Mayor McGregor for understanding that the desire to honor and remember all those who died at the hands of the Nazis is a completely separate issue from flying the Israeli flag. For the Islamic and Arab communities in Ohio, that flag is a symbol of the ongoing oppression suffered by Palestinian Christians and Muslims," said CAIR-OHIO President Ahmad Al- Akhras.
Al-Akhras cited the fact that more than 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes and more than 400 Palestinian town and villages were wiped off the map by the creation of Israel in 1948. He also noted that today is the fifth anniversary of the Qana massacre in Lebanon during which Israeli troops, using American weapons, killed more than 100 Lebanese civilians who sought shelter in a U.N. compound.
"Americans cannot, without a strong sense of hypocrisy, praise the principles of Holocaust remembrance on the one hand, and turn a blind eye to the daily atrocities committed by Israel on the other," said Andy Amid, a founding member of the Islamic Council of Ohio, who also attended the meeting.
PBS to edit image of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in documentary on Islam airing May 8
PBS has asked the producer of the upcoming series “Islam: Empire of Faith” to edit an image of the Prophet Muhammad in deference to Muslim sensitivities about representations of religious figures. The three-part series, to be aired on May 8, had included an image of Muhammad helping to place the Black Stone into the Kaaba in Mecca.
“We thank PBS for its positive response to Muslim sensitivities on this issue and appreciate the network’s efforts to offer a balanced and accurate portrayal of Islamic history,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad. Ahmad added that he hopes the series will dispel stereotypes of Islam and show that Muslims have a rich cultural and religious heritage. PBS also offers an interactive web site designed to provide educational materials based on the series.
PBS’s decision to edit the image came after a screening of the series by Muslim scholars, community leaders and activists held April 11 at CAIR’s Washington, D.C., office.*
Following the screening, CAIR sent a letter to series producer Robert Gardner expressing concerns about the representation of the Prophet. In that letter, CAIR wrote in part: “CAIR…would like to see your program succeed in offering a positive image of Islam and Muslims. The inclusion of this image would only serve as an unnecessary obstacle to that goal.” Gardner passed on CAIR concerns to PBS, which then instructed Gardner to alter the image.
In a letter to CAIR, Gardner explained his motivation for producing “Islam: Empire of Faith.” Gardner wrote: “…it [the series] reveals what to most Americans is a hidden history, a history veiled by…suspicion, fear and misunderstanding…This history reveals how extraordinarily important Islamic civilization has been to the development of Western culture - in science and medicine, art and philosophy, learning and trade.”
The first one-hour episode of the series deals with the life of the prophet Muhammad, the second examines the growth of Islam as a world civilization and the third episode looks at the impact of the Mongol invasion and the rise of the Ottoman dynasty.
*The screening was co-sponsored by CAIR, Muslim American Society, American Muslim Council and Muslim Public Affairs Council. Groups invited to or participating in the screening included, American Open University, Islamic Foundation of America, Islamic Broadcasting Network, Manassas Mosque, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, IFTA Office of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, MAPS, North American Council for Muslim Women, and the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America.
TV critics downplay positive impact of PBS "Islam: Empire of Faith" series airing tonight
Several television critics with major media outlets are apparently trying to downplay the potentially positive impact of PBS’s “Islam: Empire of Faith” three-part documentary scheduled to air this evening nationwide. For example, Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal wrote:
“What we get here is uncritical adoration of Islam, more appropriate to a tract for true believers than a documentary purporting to give the American public a balanced account…This show bears a propaganda stamp akin to those old Soviet brochures once sent out by Intourist -- the kind that were packed with pictures of colorfully costumed ethnic minorities and wide-angle photos of verdant fields but somehow went light on the grittier aspects of the situation…If the aim of this PBS event was to give Americans a truer picture of Islam, it would have been wise to focus less on avoiding offense and more on offering some genuinely balanced truth…”
In response to Rosett’s review, CAIR wrote the following letter to the editor: “Claudia Rosett’s sneering piece on the PBS documentary 'Islam: Empire of Faith’ ('Bowing Down Before a Great Religion,’ May 7, 2001) read like a review of 'Schindler’s List’ written by Timothy McVeigh.“Rosett accused the film’s producer of indulging in Soviet-style 'propaganda’ merely because he, heaven forbid, offered a generally positive portrayal of Islam. Reading her review, it is clear Ms. Rosett is so immersed in her own prejudices that she is incapable of granting Muslims this all too rare pat on the cultural back.
She complains that PBS is not offering a “balanced” account of Islam based on 'reality.’ Why do I get the feeling that for Rosett, balance really means criticism and reality translates into stereotyping?In today’s Los Angeles Times, Elizabeth Jensen stated: “…What the program leaves out, notably, is religion, which is dealt with at times only tangentially. There is no exploration of the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, or the spread of Islam to areas such as Indonesia and India. Narrator Ben Kingsley explains in the opening, 'For the West, much of the history of Islam has been obscured behind a veil of fear and misunderstanding,’ but that is as far as the program goes in touching on some of the more radical interpretations that Islam has taken on in a few countries today…”
The New York Daily News’ Eric Mink wrote: “...although the contributions of Islamic societies to mathematics, astronomy, trade, medicine and other fields are well established, the program fails to mention the pioneering advances of even older civilizations - the Egyptians and the Chinese, for example - that laid the foundations for some of the Islamic breakthroughs...”
Take 5 minutes to call the State Department
CAIR is calling on Muslims in this country and around the world to contact the U.S. Department of State to demand an end to blind support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinian Muslims and Christians. “Everyone who cares about justice should take five minutes out of their busy schedule to make a call or send a fax or e-mail, otherwise we will all be blamed for allowing Israeli brutality to go unchallenged by our government,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be FIRM, but POLITE.) Contact the Bureau of Near East Affairs at 202-647-5150 to demand that American officials: 1) Stop turning a blind eye to Israeli aggression. 2) Cut off all foreign aid to Israel. 3) Call for international force to protect the Palestinian people. 4) Meet with American Muslim leaders to discuss ways to mitigate the suffering of Palestinian civilians. CONTACT: (Calls have the most impact, followed by faxes and then e-mails.) Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520
TEL: 202-647-5150 () FAX: 202-261-8577 (202-647-4000 is the main State Department phone number.)
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS:
1) THE OCCUPATION IS THE CORE OF THE CONFLICT - America’s image and interests in the Middle East and the entire Muslim world are being harmed by our uncritical and unjust support for ANY action that Israel chooses to take in enforcement of its occupation of Palestinian land. It is this occupation, and the suffering that has flowed from it for more than 50 years, that is at the core of the conflict.
2) ISRAEL IS TARGETING PALESTINIAN CHILDREN USING AMERICAN WEAPONS - An analysis of data published in today’s Newsday indicates that 96 Palestinian children under age 18 have been killed so far in the Al-Aqsa Intifada, almost all by Israeli security forces. More than 450 Palestinians have died in all. Thousands have been wounded and maimed by American taxpayer-funded weapons. SEE http://www.newsday.com/news/daily/womide21.htm There should not be a double standard that allows Palestinian civilians to be killed without protest. Palestinians are not obligated to give up their land to the occupier or to die quietly.
3) USE OF AMERICAN WEAPONS AGAINST CIVILIANS VIOLATES U.S. LAW - On Friday, Israel’s American F-16 attack fighters bombed Palestinian cities killing 12 people and injuring many others. This was a clear violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which states: “Defense articles and defense services shall be sold or leased by the United States Government under this Act to friendly countries solely for internal security, for legitimate self-defense...”
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan described the use of the F-16 jets as an “excessive and misdirected.” Amnesty International says the use of U.S. weapons to carry out assassinations violates the Arms Export Control Act. When asked about the F-16 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney said: "I think they should stop...”
4) SETTLEMENT ACTIVITIES MUST STOP - In a news conference today held to release their report on the ongoing violence in the region, former senators George Mitchell (D-Maine) and Warren Rudman (R-N.H.) said: “The government of Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth’ of existing settlements...” SEE http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A53315-2001May20.html
5) PEOPLE OF ALL FAITHS ARE RECOGNIZING THE BRUTALITY OF ISRAELI POLICIES - The bishops of the United Methodist Church offered special prayers last week issued a resolution calling on the United States to use all available measures, including a funding cutoff to Israel, to stop human rights violations and new Jewish settlements.
6) JUSTICE IS A PRECONDITION FOR PEACE - It was Israeli attacks on Haram Al-Sharif, settlement building, land confiscation, and ongoing denial of Palestinian rights that provoked the current violence.
7) PALESTINIANS LIVE UNDER APARTHEID-LIKE CONDITIONS - They experience apartheid-like policies such as: forced expulsions, home demolitions, land confiscation, massacres, discrimination, humiliation, harassment, torture, ethnic segregation, and denial of basic human and religious liberties. The Christian population of Jerusalem drops daily. Muslim and Christian Palestinians are routinely barred by Israel from religious sites in Jerusalem.
Join other Muslims in calling the State department
Hundreds of Muslims from this country and around the world have contacted the U.S. Department of State to demand an end to blind American support for Israel’s brutal policies against Palestinian Muslims and Christians. There are signs that efforts of this kind are paying off. United Press International reports that the United States has canceled a regularly scheduled live-fire training exercise with Israeli forces. A Pentagon spokesman said he wanted to make it clear that America does not endorse Israel's tactics against Palestinian populated areas. (UPI, 5/23/2001)
“Khatibs should ask every Muslim who attends Friday prayer tomorrow to call the State Department. Even a two-minute call can make a big difference,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be FIRM, but POLITE.) Contact the State Department’s Office of Israeli-Palestinian Affairs at 202-647-3672 to demand that American officials:
TEL: 202-647-3672 FAX: 202-261-8577 (202-647-4000 is the main State Department phone number.)
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS: