Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Demand Our Response by Katey Zeh


On June 10th anti-Muslim demonstrations were held in 28 cities across the United States, including one a few miles down the road from me at the North Carolina Capitol grounds in Raleigh. Organized by ACT for America, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the largest Anti-Muslim hate group in the country, these “anti-Sharia” gatherings were advertised with propagandist messaging like “If you stand for human rights, please join us to march against Sharia” and “Sharia is incompatible with our Constitution and our American values.”

It’s no coincidence that these anti-Muslim demonstrations were organized during LGBTQ Pride month, specifically the weekend before the one year mark of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left forty-nine people dead and fifty-three others wounded, nearly all of whom were young members of the Latinx community. The shooter Omar Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before opening fire at the gay club. Scott Pressler, one of the major organizers of the anti-Muslim gatherings, claims that the Orlando massacre was a wake-up call that led him to do two things: to come out as a gay man, and to join ACT for America “to fight for my community, my country.”

ACT for America operates under the guise of human rights and women’s liberation to justify its anti-Muslim, white Supremacist agenda. The organization’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, cited acts of violence against women including female genital mutilation and honor killings as the basis of organizing these anti-sharia demonstrations. She criticized U.S. feminists, claiming (falsely) that they have we have been silent on these issues. In an interview Scott Pressler also tried to appeal to feminists in joining his anti-Muslim crusade when he said, “ We [the LGBTQ community] are under attack simply because of our sexuality. Just like women, just for being born a female you are already under attack, and I think that’s demonstrative of how extreme radical Islam really is.”

Continue reading “Anti-Muslim Demonstrations Demand Our Response by Katey Zeh”

Whose Sharia Is It? by Kecia Ali

dissertation, Advising, feminism and religionIt has been a lousy month for Islamic law.

First, there was the kidnapping and threatened sale of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram, which claimed religious acceptability for their acts. As Muslim theologian Jerusha Lamptey opined, this is not my sharia.

Then, the Sultan of Brunei’s horrific new penal code came into effect. Unlike the Nigerian girls, where a social media campaign garnered White House attention, the Brunei law gained visibility because the Sultan–who is dictating law that his track record suggests he does not observe–indirectly owns the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. Hollywood figures have objected to the rules, due to come into effect next year, which would punish proven male-male anal sex with death. (As far as I know, the code does not prescribe any particular punishment for lesbian acts, though the rhetoric has become that the new law prescribes “stoning gays and lesbians.”)

Claims like that of the Sultan or Boko Haram that “Islam” demands implementation of “sharia” ignore the complex reality in which there is not now nor has there ever been a uniform set of identifiable rules that Muslim scholars have agreed on much less that governments in Muslim majority countries have implemented over the centuries. As I wrote elsewhere, so-called sharia laws on the books in Brunei, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Morocco are not directly revealed by God. They are human products with human histories negotiated in human contexts. The pretense that these laws are straightforward implementations of God’s will not only serves to justify these otherwise unjustifiable rules but also feeds the demonization and dehumanization of Muslims. Though happening on two continents and perpetrated by two quite distinct sorts of actors – a multibillionaire monarch enmeshed in global capitalism and a militant anti-Western, anti-government insurgency – the Nigerian kidnapping and the Brunei law became exhibits A and B for the vilification of sharia. Continue reading “Whose Sharia Is It? by Kecia Ali”

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