American Muslim protesters in New York City picked a sunny day to voice concerns about holiday parity. They protested as part of the Muslim Holiday Coalition, a group that would like to see two Muslim days, Eid Al-Fahr and Eid Al-Fatr, recognized by the New York City School System as official holidays. Most Americans are probably not familiar with those two days.
American Muslim protesters in New York City picked a sunny day to voice concerns about holiday parity. They protested as part of the Muslim Holiday Coalition, a group that would like to see two Muslim days, Eid Al-Fahr and Eid Al-Fatr, recognized by the New York City School System as official holidays. Most Americans are probably not familiar with those two days. During the protest, Batina Abdul-Mumia, a New York City teacher, compared the two Muslim days to Christmas and Thanksgiving, holidays celebrated yearly by Americans. Bahr Mustafa, the groups leader, passionately demanded that the two days become school holidays. The New York City council voted in favor of recognizing the holidays June 29, but Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg remains opposed to the idea.
Protesters in Moscow July 31 took a “holiday" for a different reason. As many as 100 leaders of Strategy 31, part of a freedom movement in Russia, were beaten and jailed as a result of a non-violent rally of 1,000 participants July 31 in Moscow. Three of the group’s leaders were detained at the rally, which did not have official approval. The group is dedicated to the defense of the constitutional right to free assembly and the freedom of the press. The protest was reported by kasparov.ru and TheOtherRussia.com, a web site that reports abuses by Russian authorities for English readers.
Yet the Russian news agency rt.com, established in 2005, failed to issue a report on the incident. Bureau chiefs there were able to send a reporter to the U.S. to New York City earlier this year, to report on bias and fear related to Muslims in the U.S. Rt.com reporter Anastasia Churkina describes American attitudes as “tasteless” and “from the caveman era.” She claims that American media is causing a climate of Islamophobia. But the real culprits, for her, may be the media types on Fox News. A five second clip of the American media - the Glen Beck show, on Fox News, is enough for her.
Churkina was able to find a film-maker, Danny Schechter, and a journalist, Jerry Mazza, both who were sympathetic to her view. Schechter says Americans are biased because they don’t know enough about the Islamic political system. Perhaps he is referring to Sharia Law, which allows the Muslim faithful to amputate the limbs of those who transgress its edicts. Churkina seems baffled by American stereotypes of Muslims as killers, despite killings by radical Muslims overseas and mass killing attempts in the U.S. In May, Connecticut resident Faisal Shahzad, tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, New York City. Hundred of lives were saved only because the bomb failed to detonate. Another Muslim, Yaser Said, is wanted for killing his two teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah Said in Texas in 2008. The killings by Said are considered by family relatives to be honor killings. According to police reports, Said’s wife, Patricia Said, fled with her daughters the week before the killing because she was in “great fear for her life.”
Perhaps this is what Churkina means by Islamophobia - a fear of being killed by a Muslim extremist - those who are unable to assimilate into the law abiding population of the U.S. If that is the measure, most Americans are probably Islamophobic. And, while Moscow hardly issues public death threats against Infidels, there is no secret about the oppression of journalists and others who violate government rulers in Russia.
Journalists in Russia who expose deficiencies in the Russian military or government are often killed, go missing or lose their balance while walking on the edge of tall buildings. Perhaps if the journalists had their equilibrium checked by a doctor beforehand, they would be alive today.
In Russia, a policer office was released in March after serving only three months of a two-year sentence for killing a journalist, Magomed Yevloyev (no relation) in August 2008, according to globaljournalist.org. Russia has been ranked the most dangerous country in Europe for journalist during the past decade, according to the International Press Institute’s 2009 World Press Freedom Review. Since 2000, dozens of journalists have been killed, making Russia one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters.
But perhaps for Churkina, the U.S. is more dangerous for Muslims because of the lack of mosques. According to her, there aren't enough of them in New York City. She conducts an online search of mosques, Catholic churches and synagogues in New York City, and declares it “a staggering difference that really speaks for itself.” What is probably more staggering is how much the Russia of today is like the Soviet Union of the past.
The meeting place of choice for Russian officials seems to be a Russian jail.
© 2010 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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