Tag Archives: Muslim-Christian Relations

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on “The War on Christians”

In this week’s Newsweek, human rights activist and commentator Ayaan Hirsi Ali documents the persecution directed at Christians in many Muslim-majority countries, often with state support, or at least indifference. She argues that concern with appearing “Islamophobic” has caused Western governments and media to avoid covering the crisis, and that Western governments must “get their priorities straight” and tie foreign aid to recipients’ willingness to protect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. (For reasons CLR Forum has discussed, it’s not clear that Western pressure would actually help Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, who are vulnerable to the charge of being Western agents). Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim and present atheist, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Display of Catholic Images at The Catholic University of America

It is hard to know what to make of this story (h/t Professor Bainbridge).  What is most curious about it to me is the allegation by Professor Banzhaf that Muslims were compelled to “perform their prayers surrounded by symbols of Catholicism — e.g., a wooden crucifix, paintings of Jesus, pictures of priests and theologians which many Muslim students find inappropriate.”

It seems to me that there are two issues: (1) are there rooms on the CUA campus which do not contain such images or items (and, I suppose, were students prevented from gathering to use them for prayer)?; and (2) is the reference to these items’ “inappropriateness” one which is specifically limited to their inappropriateness as places of Muslim prayer, or is it a more general sense that displaying these images and items at CUA is inappropriate per se?

As to the first question, in my wonderful year at the law school at CUA, I can think off-hand of several rooms which did not display the complained-of images and items.  Indeed, I can even think of a few such rooms at the Salesian house near campus where I was lucky enough to sleep.  It does not seem to me that it would be difficult to find such a room on the CUA campus, though perhaps the claim is that the University willfully barred the students from access to these rooms.

As to the second question, I can understand that Muslims might not want to pray in a room bedecked with Catholic images.  On the other hand, if the claim is that these images are “inappropriate” for display tout court, I am not sympathetic to that claim.  — MOD

UPDATE: Please see this story, which reports that not a single Muslim student at CUA has complained either to the University or to Banzhaf.  At this point, as Banzhaf says, the complaint is written on Banzhaf’s behalf alone despite his attempt to solicit CUA students to sign on.  The standing requirements for filing a complaint like this must be quite generous.

Haddad on the Challenges Facing Muslims in America

This month, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Professor of, among other subjects, history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, publishes Becoming American? The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America (Baylor).  While Muslims face many unfortunate difficulties arriving in this nation—ugliness post 9/11 which I could elaborate on for hours—their arrival, in essence, forces those already here to examine who they are, to question what America—and being an American—means.  The publisher’s description is below.

Countless generations of Arabs and Muslims have called the United States “home.” Yet while diversity and pluralism continue to define contemporary America, many Muslims are viewed by their neighbors as painful reminders of conflict and violence. In this concise volume, renowned historian Yvonne Haddad argues that American Muslim identity is as uniquely American it is for as any other race, nationality, or religion.

Becoming American? first traces the history of Arab and Muslim immigration into Western society during the 19th and 20th centuries, revealing a two-fold disconnect between the cultures—America’s unwillingness to accept these new communities at home and the activities of radical Islam abroad. Urging America to reconsider its tenets of religious pluralism, Haddad reveals that the public square has more than enough room to accommodate those values and ideals inherent in the moderate Islam flourishing throughout the country. In all, in remarkable, succinct fashion, Haddad prods readers to ask what it means to be truly American and paves the way forward for not only increased understanding but for forming a Muslim message that is capable of uplifting American society.

—DRS, CLR Fellow