“American Muslims”

The US State Department Bureau of International Information Programs published and uploaded a 100 page report on the American Muslim community. The photos look amazing and the stories are quite intriguing.

Enjoy browsing through this piece of intercultural and inter-religious understanding! (:

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You can view or download the file here: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/amgov/30145/publications-english/American_Muslims.pdf

“Muslims, Our Natural Allies”

The article below was directly taken from: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/muslims-our-natural-allies. I’ll post a direct copy here since the article’s such a good read.

Muslims, Our Natural Allies

by Robert P. George

I am a Catholic. My Church teaches me to esteem our Muslim friends and to work with them in the cause of promoting justice and moral values. I am happy to stand with them in defense of what is right and good. And so I stand with the young woman in the above video in defense of modesty, chastity, and piety, just as I stand with Muslims like my dear friends Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Dr. Suzy Ismail against the killing of unborn children and the evil of pornography, and with my equally dear friend Asma Uddin of the Becket Fund in defense of religious freedom. In the great document Nostra Aetate, we Catholics are taught the following by the fathers of the Second Vatican Council:

The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims link their own. Although not acknowledging Jesus as God, they revere him as a prophet; his virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the Day of Judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.

Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.

Let us heed this teaching. Let us, Muslims and Christians alike, forget past quarrels and stand together for righteousness, justice, and the dignity of all. Let those of us who are Christians reject the untrue and unjust identification of all Muslims with those evildoers who commit acts of terror and murder in the name of Islam. Let us be mindful that it is not our Muslim fellow citizens who have undermined public morality, assaulted our religious liberty, and attempted to force us to comply with their ideology on pain of being reduced to the status of second-class citizens. Let all of us—Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of other faiths who “esteem an upright life” and seek truly to honor God and do His will—embrace each other, seeking “mutual understanding for the benefit of all men [and working] together to preserve and promote peace, liberty, justice, and moral values.”

Through the great work being done by my friend Jennifer Bryson—who is a devout Christian and a great American patriot who spent two years as an interrogator at Guantanamo—I have met hundreds of religiously observant Muslims over the past several years and many are now my close friends. They are among the finest people I know. Like faithful Christians and Jews, they seek to honor God and do His will. They work, as we do, to inculcate in their children the virtues of honesty, integrity, self-respect and respect for others, hard work, courage, modesty, chastity, and self-control. They do not want to send their sons off to wars. They do not want their children to be suicide bombers. They do not want to impose Islam on those who do not freely embrace it. They thank God for the freedom they enjoy in the United States and they are well aware of its absence in the homelands of many of those who are immigrants. It is not right for us to make them feel unwelcome or to suggest that their faith disables them from being loyal Americans. It is unjust to stir up fear that they seek to take away our rights or to make them afraid that we seek to take away theirs. And it is foolish to drive them into the arms of the political left when their piety and moral convictions make them natural allies of social conservatives. (A majority of American Muslims voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. A majority of the general voting population did not.)

I admire Muslim women and all women who practice the virtue of modesty, whether they choose to cover their hair or not. There are many ways to honor modesty and practices vary culturally in perfectly legitimate ways. Men and women are called to serve each other in various ways, and women who refuse to pornify themselves, especially in the face of strong cultural pressures and incentives to do so, honor themselves and others of their sex while also honoring those of us of the opposite sex. They uphold their own dignity and the dignity of their fellow human beings, male and female alike.

I have no doubt that in certain cultures, including some Muslim cultures, the covering of women is taken to an extreme and reflects a very real subjugation, just as in sectors of western culture, the objectification of women (including the sexualization of children at younger and younger ages) by cultural pressures to pornify reflects a very real (though less direct and obvious) subjugation. But, of course, we are in the happy position of not having to choose between the ideology of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and that of Hugh Hefner.

Of course, defenders of pornification claim that they are “liberating women” and “celebrating female beauty.” The liberation claim is the very reverse of the truth. As for “celebrating female beauty,” let me ask you this: Is there an actress in all of Hollywood who when appearing at one of these absurd awards shows dressed in a see-through gown, bra-less and wearing a thong, can compare with the beautiful young Muslim woman in the video I posted? I submit that there is none. Oh, yes, to be sure, the actress will appeal to something in her male viewers. (I’m a man.Take it from me.) But it will not be their sense or appreciation of beauty. It will be something much lower and brutely appetitive. Their experience will be one in which who she actually is as a person is utterly submerged. The men viewing her will not be drawn in to wonder about her thoughts and feelings, her experiences of joy and sorrow, her strengths and vulnerabilities—the things that actually make her the unique person she is. Their experience will, quite literally, be an experience of de-personalized desire—the very definition of lust.

“The Choke Points of Power”

Earlier this morning, I watched a documentary entitled “The Choke Points of Power” in Al Jazeera English. If you’re into global politics and economics, trade, geography, and power-play, then this film is a MUST-WATCH.

For centuries, ocean-borne trade has been the backbone of global economy. Nations, which aspire to attain global power, compete in controlling maritime trade routes–such as sea lanes that are EXTREMELY crucial in the transportation of oil from the petroleum-rich countries of the Middle East.

The film projects that the West (with the US reigning as top superpower) is now facing an eventual decline of control over these maritime “choke points.” I love how this documentary really gets down to exposing and discussing some of the most CRUCIAL POINTS that explain how the affairs of our world work. The politics, feuds, and alliances between and among key nation players are really explained well in this film. Kudos to the directors and researchers!

(Tsk, I should have taken notes while watching this earlier.)
PS: I tried looking online for a copy of this film but failed to see any. It may be possible to catch a replay of this documentary in Al Jazeera English. This film was made by Alexandre Trudeau and Jonathan Pedneault and is also entitled as “The New Great Game.”

PPS: If you want to catch this in AJE, a replay might be shown during these times. Accordingly: “Al Jazeera World can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.”

“Google recognises Palestine”

For many netizens across the world, the two letters that follow the (dot) after http://www.google.__ are usually overlooked. To many, it doesn’t matter.

However, for a significant few, it does.

www.google.PS

Read the news here: Search engine Google recognises Palestine – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

An Anti-Child Abuse Advertisement

Featured above is a brilliant campaign for a very important cause. The video explains how ANAR Foundation manages to send out distinct images and messages to two specific target markets: The adults and children.

By utilizing an outdoor lenticular, this advertisement gets its messages across, and reaches out to abused children even when they are walking directly beside their aggressors.

Simple, but brilliant idea.

Video Description:

Título: Sólo para niños
“ANAR Foundation manages in Spain the european unique phone number 116 111, to attend children and teenagers under a risk situation. On this telephone number, only for minors, they can find the help they need in a totally anonymous and confidential way. But, how can we get our message to a child abuse victim, even when they are accompanied by their aggressor?

Knowing the average height for adults and children under 10,GREY has created two different messages. Using an outdoor lenticular we show adults an awareness message, while children see a message where we offer them our help and show them the telephone number. A message only for children.”

Thoughts: Herbaria “Fears” Commercial

While it is creative, I wonder whether this advertisement sends its message across well. To “drown your fears with a cup of soothing tea” may indeed be a good message to send but I’m not sure whether this commercial does just that. If eerie shots are shown, with no clear resolution of calmness right after–for as you can see, this might still disturb, scare, or haunt some viewers–the ad may fail in creating a positive connection with its target market.

Personally, I like how cinematic this ad looks, along with the dream-like portrayal of the tea bag drowning one’s fear. The bloody-like contamination of the water, which you can say is the tea bag filling your cup, is also an exquisite shot. When you usually think of tea, most ads produced are “calm”, “peaceful” and “soothing”. This ad, however, with its ghastly music bed, is its complete opposite. Think it works?