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Women in a Gaza City suq

Women in a Gaza City suq

The opening paragraph of “Palestinian sheds light on who’s right in Middle East” by Naomi Lakritz of The Calgary Herald is full of promises; promises daring to oppose those who speak against the brutal treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. Lakritz believes that by presenting this one Palestinian, Khalid Abu Toameh, an Israeli citizen, “reporter for the Jerusalem post” will forever open the eyes of the world to who’s really at fault in the Middle East. In her pathetic attempt to prove this “incendiary rhetoric about Israel” as a lie, she makes another stunning accusation: how this rhetoric is actually about hating the Jews rather than abuse of citizens, or on a humane level, of humans. Though her article does provide an insight on the other side of the story but is premature in even recognizing the ugly side of the story.

Lakritz employs an interesting technique: use of those who identify with the oppressed to prove the innocence of the oppressors. Lakritz finds much of the support for her statements in Toameh. The obvious declaration of Toameh as an Arab Muslim Palestinian, citizen of Israel, and a reporter for the Jerusalem Post is an indication of Israel’s all inclusive citizenship rules, although it is quite clear even by statements made by Toameh that Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as third- class citizens, with no right to vote but an obligation to pay full taxes. Toameh states Palestinians are living a peaceful or lived a peaceful life under Israel’s rules and it’s only the international media, more specifically, Canadian media that is finding faults in a perfectly peaceful situation. According to Toameh those protesting against Israel’s actions are not “Arabs and not Palestinians” supporting the claim that Palestinians are perfectly satisfied with the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. From this perspective Toameh and Lakritz wish to defy thousands of those Palestinians who have been raped, murdered, forced out of their lands, have had their pristine lands occupied by Israeli settlers, have no access to education, to even the basic needs for survival. In this respect she either denies these treatments or finds them acceptable and humane. Under Israeli occupation and colonization Palestinians are denied even the basic right of food, education, and medicine, and are terrorized on a day- to-day basis through military occupation.

Lakrtiz also strongly believes that the “incendiary rhetoric” condemning Israel stems from the hatred towards Jews. It is the Jews who are the problem, Israel is just an excuse. In the “incendiary rhetoric” she points to, Jews are not stated as being the problem but Israel’s army and it’s government’ policies are stated as corrupted. The social taboo of blaming or hating Jews as a whole nation for any action is interesting. It is understandably unacceptable to blame the actions of Israel on Jews or Judaism, but it is entirely acceptable to blame the whole of the Muslim world and its religion for the actions of a handful of Muslim extremists. Attacks by Muslim extremists always create frenzy in Western Media but attacks by Jewish extremists or Christian extremists are ignored or vaguely mentioned. The generalization is so great that individual Muslims are easily prejudged as terrorists by the general public. I would like to make it clear that I do not blame Jews or their religion for the abuse of Palestinians, but what makes it acceptable to generalize one group of people but on the other hand generalizing the other population is considered social taboo?

Although I am against Israel’s policies and blame them, to a certain extent, for the situation of the Palestinian people. However, we as Muslims, especially those neighboring Israel and Palestine, fall no short of sharing this responsibility. In this respect I agree with Toameh and Lakritz. The Palestinian government has never been able to serve the interest of Palestine in full capacity and whatever destruction is upon Muslims is actually to a certain extent our own fault. Our inability to act against such abuse is witness to what we value. Muslim leaders speak out against these actions but have never actually taken a firm step, regarding political policies, against the Western powers in opposing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Our leaders seem to be sold to Western powers to keep their national interests as their top priority. One wonders if to them the life of luxury is more important rather than provision of basic rights for their citizens, or even other Muslims. It is about time Muslim leaders take strong political action, rather than resort to violence, against such atrocities.

Lakritz refuses to recognize the oppression of Palestinian people but she cannot deny it. According to Lakritz “a journalist has an innate obligation to tell that truth.” Maybe she should act on it herself by presenting both sides of the story.

Image by Flickr user Ahron de Leeuw, used under the Creative Commons License.

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The Canadian government has (finally) decided to lay to rest its plans to introduce legislation that would force women who wear niqab (fabric that covers their faces) to show their faces when voting.

This comes as a relief, not so much because of the actual legislation, but because of the amazing amount of misinformation that has surrounded the discussions – both in the media and in political spheres – about this issue for the past couple years.  Chris Selley’s recent National Post blog article about this topic does a good job of exploring some of the misconceptions that arose in these discussions.

Proposing two main reasons for why the legislation was dropped, Selley first emphasises that “there is very little of a problem here to solve,” and tells us that  “According to Elections Canada, not a single elector attempted to vote with her face covered in the last federal election.”  Although, of course, the potential for someone to attempt to vote with their face covered in the future still exists on a hypothetical level, I think this point, as well as the fact that only a very tiny proportion of Canada’s population wears niqab, makes it pretty clear how much the panic around this issue has been totally blown out of proportion.

Selley’s second point is that:

either our government never had any intention of actually banning veiled voting, or it is so spectacularly inept that it couldn’t figure out how to do it. Indeed, it is very important to realize that at no point in this saga has legislation ever been proposed or enacted that would, in fact, force every voter’s unveiled face to be matched with a piece of photo identification.

Although the current legislation regarding voter identification was apparently supposed to make the requirements more stringent, one thing that it did not do was to require photo identification.  Voters must present either one piece of photo identification with their home address, or two pieces of identification that list the voter’s name, including one that also includes the voting address, or the voter can have another registered voter from the same riding vouch for them.  Note that only the first option necessitates a visual identification.  Moreover, thousands of voters vote by mail every election; none of them are asked for any photographic verification of their identity.  If Canada’s politicians are truly concerned about voter fraud (which is usually the main stated reason for wanting voters to show their faces), surely there are more effective ways to address this issue than to go after voters whose faces are covered.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand said publicly in 2007 that, according to existing legislation, there would be no point in forcing voters to show their faces, since visual identification was not a requirement; however, as Selley points out, the lack of photo requirement seemed to go right over the heads of some of Canada’s politicians:

“We just adopted this spring… a law designed to have the visual identification of voters,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper fumed. “That’s the purpose of the law,” he added, astonishingly.

Not satisfied with his boss’s gaffe, Tory MP Joe Preston—a real live member of the committee that OKed the legislation, apparently without having read it—then upped the ante. “I’d love for [Mayrand] to come here and try to explain to us what he doesn’t understand,” he said, causing numerous heads to explode in the few Canadian newsrooms that actually noticed what was going on.

(Having felt like my own head was going to explode at a few points while researching this issue for both blogging and academic purposes, part of me feels a little bit gratified that at least I’m not alone.)

Selley writes that even the proposed new legislation would not have actually changed the documentation required to prove a voter’s identity:

It would simply have required that voters show their faces whilst presenting the ID, photo or otherwise.

As I said at the time, the concern was that a veiled woman could provide photo ID but not have to show her face, rendering the photo ID pointless. And the proposed remedy was to allow a veiled woman to provide non-photo ID but force her to show her face, rendering the unveiling pointless. Pointless, that is, if the goal was actually to ensure Canadians’ unveiled faces are matched with photo ID before they vote. Unfortunately for all of us, the goal was nothing more than to capitalize on a hot-button issue.

The last sentence of this quote – that the panic around this topic was less about actual worries about voter fraud than it was about “capitaliz[ing] on a hot-button issue” – highlights, for me, the most disturbing part of this whole thing.  I followed a lot of the media hype around it in the fall, and much of it seemed to be from people worried that Muslims were taking over Canada’s political systems and forcing Elections Canada to allow them to vote with faces covered, despite a total lack of evidence that any of this was coming from Muslims, as well as the fact that the absence of a requirement of photo identification was part of the existing laws and not some concession being made to Muslim communities (who, again, had not even asked for any such concession.)  The comments on some of the news articles were even worse; women in niqab were portrayed as dangerous and untrustworthy, and as a foreign threat, despite the fact that, as voters, the women in question are necessarily Canadian citizens.

To be honest, if photo ID was required for all voters, I probably would not have a problem with everyone being required to actually show their faces in order to confirm their identities (although I would hope that this would be done in conditions that everyone would be comfortable with.)  However, considering that this is not the case, and that the hype around this issue has only served to paint Muslim Canadians as threatening and as non-Canadians, I am, like Chris Selley, “thrilled to see this ugly chapter in Canadian politics closed.”

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A Toronto private school is being sued by a Muslim student for defamation, as a result of the school’s response to a fight in which racial slurs were made against the student:

A private French school run by a former Liberal MP defamed a 15-year-old student during an assembly and did not treat alleged racial slurs made against him seriously because he is Muslim, a lawsuit alleges.

Omar Elgammal is suing the Toronto French School, headmaster John Godfrey – who was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 – and principal Heidi Gollert over alleged remarks at a school assembly denouncing the teen after a fight apparently sparked by racial slurs.

In the defamation lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court, Elgammal alleges that on Oct. 23, 2008, a student from another private school was at Toronto French School and insulted Elgammal.

The student “seized” upon Elgammal’s Muslim heritage, calling his father “bin Laden,” calling them terrorists and saying, “What are you guys going to do, call out, `Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah, Allah?” Elgammal alleges. (Read more)

The Canadian government has decided not to pursue legislation that would have forced niqab-wearing women to show their faces when voting in Canadian elections:

The federal government has no plans to move forward with proposed legislation to force veiled women to show their faces when voting, the minister of state for democratic reform said Thursday.

“We have other priorities as far as increasing voter participation and with the expanded voting opportunities legislation,” Steven Fletcher said in an interview.

“And that is our focus. That obviously will affect a lot more people.”

Dmitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed the government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but said the bill doesn’t have opposition support.

“The bottom line is even if we were to proceed with legislation, it would be voted down immediately,” Soudas said. (Read more)

More on Adil Charkaoui’s cross-Canada speaking tour, this time from Vancouver:

“The purpose of this Canadian tour is simple,” said Charkaoui at a news conference this morning. “I want to talk directly to Canadians, to show them that I was treated unfairly by their government, by our government.”

Charkaoui arrived in Canada from Morocco as a permanent resident with his mother, father and sister in 1995. On May 21, 2003, he was arrested after the federal government signed a security certificate against him, and later accused him of being a threat to national security. Charkaoui was jailed for 21 months and released under the strict conditions of a security certificate in 2005. Today, he wears a GPS tracking device and must alert the Canadian Border Services Agency 48 hours before leaving the island of Montreal. As well, he is not allowed to associate with anyone with a criminal record or use the Internet outside of his home.

“Never has the federal government been able to prove the so called ‘reasonable character’ of the security certificate issued against him,” said Fernand Dechamps, who travelled to Vancouver with Charkaoui. (Read more)

The Ottawa Citizen reflects on a Canadian magazine’s portrayal of Jordan’s Queen Rania:

As it happens, Queen Rania does have very strong ideas about Jordan and its place in the world, although you’d never know it from that Hello Canada article. On her dedicated YouTube channel, you can hear her speak in a intelligent way about the education of girls, for example.

She’s at her most inspiring when she’s talking about the need to eliminate the suspicion and mistrust between the West and the Arab world.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, her personality is her most powerful tool in that project. She’s a high-profile Muslim woman who wears jeans and lets her long hair hang loose and uncovered because that’s her choice. She talks about her relationship with her husband as an equal partnership. She is Queen, and she calls that a “mandate” and takes it seriously, especially given the state of the Middle East. “We live in a tough neighbourhood,” she told Hello Canada. (Read more)

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Image via The Toronto Star

Image via The Toronto Star

“Pride parade ‘microcosm of anti-Semitism happening globally’” headlined the Jewish Tribune last month, outlining lawyer Martin Gladstone’s and Jewish advocacy organization B’nai Brith’s concern with the “anti-Israel political advocacy going on” at the parade. The objection Gladstone and B’nai Brith raised to the inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in Toronto’s upcoming parade embodies several leitmotifs in the North American discourse around Israel/Palestine (and regarding Muslims and Muslim-majority countries in general): the suppression of dissent and the silencing of critical perspectives in forums that traditionally challenge the status quo; the conflation of legitimate criticism of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism; and the co-optation of the language of human rights to justify colonial and imperial projects. It is this last trend which constitutes the subject-matter of this analysis.

Executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada Frank Dimant considers it

the height of irony to single out democratic Israel in this fashion [by protesting Israeli occupation of Palestine in the Pride Parade] when it is the only country in the Middle East that guarantees the fundamental freedoms of all its citizens without distinction. In stark contrast, the rights of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community in neighbouring Arab countries are routinely trampled on. Members of Canada’s LGBT community who are constantly battling discrimination should be mindful not to become part and parcel of the anti-Israel machinery that continues to churn out hateful and divisive propaganda.

Dimant’s insinuation is that protesting Israeli apartheid equals a demonstration of support for the homophobia of the Arab countries, and against the equality Israel guarantees to its LGBT community – an argument which implies that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land is somehow justified by Palestinian homophobia. This logic obviously contradicts that basic, if hackneyed, (in)equation of moral arithmetic: two wrongs don’t equal a right.

Dimant’s framing of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as one between a democratic, tolerant Israel and an oppressive, intolerant Arab world resonates with a broader discourse which appropriates the language of human rights in the service of colonial and imperial ventures. As Sherene Razack trenchantly observes in her book Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics,

[Zionist positions] premised on the idea that a Jewish state must be created by force regardless of Palestinian opposition benefits from the companion notion that Palestinians are not entitled to the land by virtue of their refusal to enter modernity.1

The rights of women and sexual minorities serve as markers distinguishing modern societies from pre-modern ones in a Manichean clash between a Western culture “imagined as a homogenous composite of values including a unique commitment to democracy and human rights,” 2 and a Muslim culture characterized by a commitment to misogyny and homophobia. The wars waged to “liberate” the women of Afghanistan and Iraq represent one aspect of this “clash of civilizations”; Holland’s test requiring would-be immigrants to watch a video of two men kissing in a park to weed out illiberal applicants (primarily Muslim) represents another.

The misogyny and homophobia that do exist in the West disappear into the fault line dividing the Western and Muslim worlds in the clash of civilizations fiction. In the case of homophobia, for example: sodomy was illegal in Canada until 1969 and in some American states as recently as 2003; in November 2008, California passed Proposition 8 banning gay marriage; B’nai Brith, ostensibly championing Israel’s gay rights, is “openly aligned with anti-gay rights Christian fundamentalists such as Charles McVety, Canada’s most vocal lobbyist against same-sex marriage, and John Hagee, who claimed God sent Hurricane Katrina to stop ‘a homosexual parade.’” There is no place for these facts in a simplistically dichotomous narrative which juxtaposes the homogenously modern West against the pre-modern rest.

Before closing, it should be noted that the purpose of this piece is not to engage in a tu quoque argument that catalogues North American homophobia and measures it up against its Arab or Muslim counterpart; rather, it is to point out that while homophobia exists in both “Western” and “Muslim” societies, it is only diagnosed as a symptom of fatal pre-modernity (requiring treatment by invasion and occupation) in Muslim ones. Nor is this article an exercise in apologetics: there are grave human rights concerns in many Muslim-majority countries, and they need to be addressed. However, it does no service to the causes of justice and equality to marry the concept of human rights to racist ideologies of imperialism.

1) The contemporary rhetoric of culture clash premised on notions of human rights echoes the earlier colonial concept of terra nullius (no one’s land), which justified the European theft of land from its insufficiently modern indigenous inhabitants. For instance, Theodore Roosevelt defended the violent colonization of North America thus: “The world would probably not have gone forward at all, had it not been for the displacement or submersion of savage and barbaric peoples” (from The Winning of the West).

2) Sherene Razack. Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics. pg. 88

See also:

“Modern Women as Imperialists” in Sherene Razack. Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics.

Haneen Maikey and Jason Ritchie. “Queers for Palestine: A Response to an Article in the Advocate.” http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/3276

Huibin Amee Chew. “Occupation is Not (Women’s) Liberation. http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/6599

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Lookout Links: June 22

Adil Charkaoui, one of five men arrested on a security certificate in 2003, is on a speaking tour across Canada, and has spoken in several cities already.  For those of you in Vancouver and Victoria, see here for the dates that he’ll be in your city this week.  Check out this article too, about his talk in Fredericton:

[O]n June 3, 2009, my students came face to face with the consequences of Canada’s counter-terrorism measures and the realities they create.

Adil Charkaoui hesitantly entered the class with a book-bag slung over one shoulder. We made our introductions and he seemed very collegial. He began his talk by apologizing for his English, noting it was his third language, and how he was nervous to misspeak due to prior experiences. He was then interrupted by a phone call which he reluctantly answered. Explaining in French, he told the caller he was in the middle of a presentation and asked if he could call back shortly.

“Sorry, it was the government”. Indeed, the effects of one policy were becoming increasingly clear for my class.

As I’m sure many readers are aware, Mr. Charkaoui is one of five gentlemen who have been detained in Canada under the provisions of Federal Immigration Security Certificates. In fact, Mr. Charkaoui was the lead plaintiff in a Supreme Court case which resulted in the certificate legislation being declared unconstitutional and a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. […]

Mr. Charkaoui painted a vivid picture of the personal consequences resulting from this imbalance – described through his indefinite detention; threats of deportation to a 3rd party where it was assumed on reasonable grounds (established by the government) he would be subjected to torture, cruel or inhumane treatment; infringements on privacy and impediments to maintaining employment as a teacher.

Although his bail restrictions have been relaxed due to a court ruling, Mr. Charkaoui lamented about the stigmatism of being labeled a terrorist and the difficulties in trying to counter such a label and establish some normalcy in his life. For this reason, he has launched a cross-Canada speaking tour aimed at sharing his experiences and the consequences of such repressive legislation as the certificate policy. The effects of which are still omnipresent. (Read more)

The Edmonton Journal writes about the Africa Centre, a multicultural and multifaith community space for people of various African backgrounds:

A girl in a hijab as bright as her smile plays a game with friends, volunteers quizzing them on math questions as they move pieces around a board. Around her, children who have made the journey from Africa to Edmonton focus on puzzles, and computers, and games, their chatter infusing the old Wellington Junior High School with new life.

Look down this hallway. Young boys in stockinged feet kneel to face Mecca, touching their foreheads to a red prayer rug.

Turn around. Basketballs thump on a hard gym floor. Impossibly long bodies leap into the air.

Open this door. Beans, peppers, and tomatoes grow in a makeshift greenhouse, tended to by immigrants who come from countries where they never knew sub-zero temperatures.

This is the Africa Centre, part community organization, part cultural hub, part leap of faith for a group of community leaders who want to unite a diverse immigrant population that is growing each year. The children who attend the homework club, like the adults who promote it, come from across a continent that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. (Read more)

Abousfian Abdelrazik will, apparently, be finally allowed to return to Canada from Sudan, after having been repeatedly refused travel documents by the Canadian government, although his story is likely far from over:

Even before the flight arrangements are made to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home from Sudan, there’s a rising clamour for a full-blown inquiry, an apology – perhaps even a settlement – over the Canadian government’s role in his six-year exile.

“Abdelrazik’s case is far more grave than [Maher] Arar’s in terms of Canada’s involvement,” said the NDP’s Paul Dewar, the Ottawa MP who has championed his case in the Commons. “This has been a form of Canadian rendition, exiling a citizen when there was no evidence against him.”

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s terse announcement in Parliament Thursday provided no details about how the government will make good on the court-ordered obligation to repatriate Mr. Abdelrazik.

“The government will comply with the court order,” Mr. Nicholson said, referring to an order by Mr. Justice Russell Zinn of the Federal Court that Mr. Abdelrazik be brought home with a diplomatic escort within 30 days. (Read more)

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Written by a guest contributor and originally posted at Getting a life.

Scrolling down Antonia Zerbisias’ blog today, my eyes lighted upon the title, “American Taliban.” Something about an American Muslim extremist, I surmised—but, I was wrong. She was in fact blogging about the murder of a well-known doctor in Wichita, Kansas.

Nowhere does Zerbisias indicate what connection this tragic event has to Muslims (extremist or otherwise), the Taliban, or even Afghans or Pakistanis. In fact, she gives plenty of evidence that Dr. George Tiller was killed by an extreme right-wing American Christian anti-abortionist. So why not a headline which reflects that? Why bring the Taliban into it, as though non-Muslim Americans have always been and remain incapable of committing acts of violence intended to keep women “in their place”?

It gets worse, with Jed Lewison at the Daily Kos going on about Bill O’Reilly’s long-running “jihad” against George Tiller on Fox News, as though there is no history among non-Muslim Americans of people using public platforms in order to whip up popular sentiment against those they disagree with, and then acting surprised when violence is done against the target of their rantings. Apparently, that sort of thing is just beyond the ability of nice white Christian (or post-Christian) Americans; it takes the Moozlems to do rotten stuff like that.

And the thing is, Zerbisias reads www.muslimahmediawatch.org. So, why doesn’t she get it?

I suppose from the perspective of Zerbisias and Lewison, my objections are just an exercise in splitting hairs at best. After all, isn’t the Taliban by far the most misogynist government in living memory? Haven’t they blown up girls’ schools, thrown acid at girls going to school, publicly whipped women for “crimes” such as leaving the house without a male escort… so why does it matter if they are also rhetorically associated with one crime evidently committed by a white Christian in Kansas? What difference does it make, adding one more misogynistic act of vigilantism to their already lengthy balance-sheet?

What difference does it make, indeed? Probably no difference to those who, every time they read a headline such as “Bomb threat closes school” or ”Woman stabbed to death by husband” don’t know what it’s like to reflexively wish, every single time, that it’s not a Muslim who did it. It makes no difference to those who have the privilege of being judged as individuals. If a white and/or Christian man (or woman) killed Dr. Tiller, no one will assume that this indicates that whites or Christians in general are innately predisposed to be violent. But when any Muslim individual, group or government commits a crime, this is somehow believed to reflect on Muslims in general. Every crime, every horror which makes the news reverberates through school yards and work-places everywhere.

The other day, my middle-school-aged daughter told me that a boy in her class had been calling her a terrorist. Why, I asked. She replied that it is because he knows that her father comes from X [a Middle Eastern country].

Aside from the blame question, there’s also the weight of grief that one carries from over a half a lifetime of hearing largely horrible news about one’s coreligionists. I don’t need one more thing added to it. Not one more thing. I’d say that we have enough to deal with already without also bearing the sins of Christian anti-abortion extremists, even rhetorically.

Not only that, but using Muslim-sounding terminology in order to discuss acts of violence and intimidation carried out by some American Christians on the basis of their own (right-wing Christian) ideology is an act of disavowal which has the risk of short-circuiting some long-overdue critical reflection. It allows right-wingers and others to pretend that Christian misogyny (unlike the Muslim kind) may be a bit over the top at times, but isn’t really dangerous to anyone. A harmful illusion if ever there was one.

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Lookout Links: June 15

We missed linking to it last week, but go read this article about Mustafa Ahmed, a young Toronto boy who does some pretty awesome spoken word.  More importantly, watch a video of him performing one of his pieces:

In other news about young Toronto Muslims, the Globe and Mail reports on a prom night for Muslim girls:

Salma Hindy had caramel highlights added to her long, dark hair for the first time yesterday – though because she wears the hijab, they will stay mostly a secret vanity, hidden from public view.

Last night, the 17-year-old honours student, yearbook editor and future engineer, arrived at her prom, concealed by a shapeless tunic, her stylish upswept hair forming a bump under her head scarf. Until, that is, she passed through the closed doors of the banquet hall in Mississauga, Ont., and, under a ceiling of blue and gold balloons, revealed an elegant teenager in a sparkling, black evening gown – the beginning of a night she had imagined since Grade 8.

There was dancing, but no boys – in mixed company, young Muslim women cannot dance or wear revealing clothing. No one was sneaking in alcohol – drinking is strictly forbidden by Islam. And there was no prom Queen: Instead, every graduate wore a tiara. (Read more)

I’m all about the happy stories today.  Here’s one about a community of Muslims working to support an indigenous community in Manitoba:

Last night, the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, created in 2007, flew 450 loaves of bread from City Bread and 240 pounds of chicken bought at a discount from the Clearview Colony to Garden Hill.

Once there, the bread and chicken were to be distributed by the band council to reserve members who most needed it.

Hussain Guisti, the foundation’s general manager and chief financial officer, said it has sent two smaller donations of food and clothing to Garden Hill in recent weeks, but this is the first large shipment.

“A charity is finally working up in Garden Hill to help them,” Guisti said on Tuesday.

“We have charities working overseas and there is poverty here. Maybe this will raise the eyebrows of other charities and they will also help.”

Garden Hill Chief David Harper said he is grateful for the help from Zubaidah Tallab.

“So far they’re the only ones that have helped us,” Harper said.

“We are very pleased.” (Read more)

And the Aga Khan is given an honorary degree by the University of Alberta, as well as honorary Canadian citizenship by the Canadian government:

Improving the quality of life for people around the world is a tall order for a 20-year-old.

But more than 50 years ago when the Aga Khan was named spiritual leader of the Shia Nizari Ismaili Muslims, he was up to the task.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Shah Kari al-Hussayni – the 49th Aga Khan – will receive the rare award of honorary Canadian citizenship to recognize his efforts in working toward that goal.

He founded the Aga Khan Development Network, an organization that has brought better health care, education and urban and rural development to impoverished communities in Asia and Africa. (Read more)

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