Monthly Archives: October 2008

‘Shariah’ is not a scary word

By Elias Karmi, Engage Minnesota

The word ‘Shariah’ is a bit prickly even among many of the better educated in the West. I and many Muslims, however, grew up viewing Shariah as an exit from current-day injustices. Now, instead of having to read me blabbering away about it, fortunately for you I came across a highly insightful article by professor Noah Feldman, law professor at Harvard University and adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The following are two paragraphs from the first page of the article. Please check out the article and let professor Feldman do all the talking:

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Powell Denounces Muslim-Bashing: ‘That’s Not America’

As former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president on the NBC-TV program “Meet the Press” on Oct. 19, 2008, the conversation with host Tom Brokaw turned to tactics in the campaign that Powell said had “disappointed” him.  Below is a verbatim portion of Powell’s comments:

Now, I understand what politics is all about.  I know how you can go after one another, and that’s good.  But I think this goes too far.  And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow.  It’s not what the American people are looking for.  And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me.

Colin Powell photo by Brendan Smialowski / Meet the PressAnd the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift.  I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a McCain administration.

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.”

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?

The answer’s no, that’s not America.
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‘Raw capitalism is dead’–and Muslims have a solution

By Elias Karmi, Engage Minnesota

It was just a few weeks ago that U.S. treasury secretary Henry Paulson declared raw capitalism’s death. And if I might add: Thank God someone realizes the futility of our current financial system. Two problems here: 1) it may be too late, and 2) even if we recover, the true solution may never be practiced.

It is challenging for someone who grew up surrounded by our current financial system to be able to feel what is fundamentally wrong with it. To illustrate, let me ask a question: Why is it that you can never own a house or open a business without borrowing money? And if you think that is the way things should be, it is not! Nor was it ever before in human history.

Borrowing money is not how humanity built its great historical monuments. The Pyramids and the Sistine Chapel were not paid for over years and years to come with interest. Yet in today’s world, if you avoid borrowing, you can barely add a wall to your house without going nearly bankrupt. Everyone, from individuals to large corporations and even governments are under some obligation to pay a debt that is often more than their net worth. How did we get here?

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How Arabs (Mis)perceive America, and Vice Versa

Minnesotan’s Book Aims to Dispel Ignorance by Promoting Cultural Awareness

By Mary Coons

To many in the Arab world, America seems like a threat – or at least the big bully on the playground. But America is not the real threat – although it can be a bully. Ignorance is the true threatening enemy.

I wrote Culturally Speaking: Promoting Cross-Cultural Awareness in a Post-9/11 World as an attempt to bridge some of those vast chasms of cultural gaps lurking out there behind heavy wooden doors by dispelling the ignorance that Americans and Arabs of the Persian Gulf have of each other’s cultures.

It is crucial that we listen and understand one another’s perspective, and not allow misconceptions to fester. This does not mean we must always agree with these perspectives. But we do have a responsibility to respect one another’s opinions as part of healthy, intellectual stimulation.


We must first admit our ignorance, recognize and dispel gross generalizations and, finally, begin to influence and inspire changed attitudes toward cross-cultural differences among family, friends, and co-workers.

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Oct. 8 Event in Minneapolis: Lebanon’s Tragedy

Wednesday, Oct. 8th, 6:30 p.m.: Cathy Sultan speaks about her new book Tragedy in South Lebanon at Amazon/True Colors Bookstore, 4755 Chicago Ave. South, Minneapolis

The war in Iraq has taken our attention away from other troubled areas of the Middle East. Cathy Sultan draws us back to Lebanon and Israel in Tragedy in South Lebanon, which was released in April. Through history, research, and personal interviews, she chronicles life in southern Lebanon and northern Israel during the brutal summer 2006 war. As in her other critically acclaimed books, Sultan focuses on ordinary people, who are overlooked by politicians and military leaders and become victims of poor decisions made by the governments of Israel, Lebanon, and the United States.

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