Muslim Americans encouraged, hopeful with Obama at the helm

By Wendell Marsh
July 13, 2009

alqaisiIraqi Americans Wasan Alqaisi and Sumer Majid made a Fourth of July family picnic of kebab — served on hamburger buns with slices of American cheese.

U.S. faith groups push for healthcare reform

June 30, 2009

A coalition of progressive U.S. faith groups and pastors has launched a push for affordable health care reform, an effort they say is rooted in a “scriptural call to act.”OBAMA/Radio ads will appear from today until July 4th in five states: Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska and North Carolina. The ads urge those states’ Senators, whose votes could ultimately decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s drive to transform America’s health care system, to back legislation “that makes quality coverage truly affordable for every American family.” You can see the ad script and audio here.Organizers also say that more than 600 clergy from 41 states and 39 denominations have said they will deliver sermons in coming weeks on the issue and urge their flocks to act. A pastors’ guide to health care will also be distributed to 4,250 religious leaders along with a shorter version to wider church members.PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Faithful America, Sojourners, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good are the main religious advocacy groups behind the campaign.If this all sounds familiar, it should. The tactics being adopted by these liberal and centrist groups and activists are a carbon copy of the successful ones employed in the past by the U.S. religious right. The distribution of pastors’ guides, the call for public policy to be guided by scripture (in this case compassion for the poor and the ill), the preaching of sermons on looming legislation — it’s all taken from the loose network of conservative Christians which has delivered many a vote for the Republican Party.Conservative Christians remain a key base for the Republicans and they have also been decrying “Obama-care” on talk radio, the blogosphere and other outlets.Photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing.  Members of the audience shake hands with U.S. President Barack Obama after his speech about reforming America’s health care system in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 11, 2009.

Almost two million vanish from Obama’s estimate of U.S. Muslims

June 22, 2009

dawn-front-page002 (Dawn front page for Sunday, 21 June 2009)

Almost two million people have inexplicably disappeared from the estimates of the U.S. Muslim population that President Barack Obama has given recently. In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, he spoke about “nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today.” On Sunday, the Karachi daily Dawn published an interview with him where he said “we have five million Muslims.”

New on-line forum seeks “common ground” on abortion

June 16, 2009

A new on-line forum launched on Tuesday seeks to spark discussion among faith and secular leaders and activists about ways to find some elusive common ground on the divisive issue of abortion.

Can non-Muslims join an Islamist party – and why would they?

June 5, 2009

MALAYSIA-POLITICS/ISLAMISTS

By Razak Ahmad

Should non-Muslims be allowed to join an Islamist party? Would the Islamists want them to join? This is the issue facing the Pan Malaysian Islamist Party (PAS) at its annual assembly this week.

Islamic tone, interfaith touch in Obama’s speech to Muslim world

June 4, 2009

obama-speech-baghdadIt started with “assalaamu alaykum” and ended with “may God’s peace be upon you.” Inbetween, President Barack Obama dotted his speech to the Muslim world with Islamic terms and references meant to resonate with his audience. The real substance in the speech were his policy statements and his call for a “new beginning” in U.S. relations with Muslims, as outlined in our trunk news story. But the new tone was also important and it struck a chord with many Muslims who heard the speech, as our Middle East Special Correspondent Alistair Lyon found. Not all, of course — you can find positive and negative reactions here.

Will Obama address the Muslim world or the Arab world?

June 2, 2009

obama-faceWhen President Barack Obama delivers his long-awaited speech in Cairo on Thursday, will he address the Muslim world or the Arab world? In the pre-speech build-up, it’s being called a speech “to the Muslim world” or “to the world’s 1.x billion Muslims” (the estimated total mentioned in different articles fluctuates between 1and 1.5 billion). But the venue he’s chosen — Cairo — and all the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict make it sound like a speech to and about the Middle East.

GUESTVIEW: Missing dimension in Middle East peace process

By Reuters Staff
June 1, 2009

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Rev. Bud Heckman is Director for External Relations at Religions for Peace (New York) and Matthew Weiner is Program Director at the Interfaith Center of New York.

Americans mark National Day of Prayer

May 7, 2009

Americans who are so inclined are marking their National Day of Prayer on Thursday — and, as with any event that evokes church and state in this country, it is not without controvesy.

U.S. troop conversion allegations diplomatic minefield

May 4, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama may face a new minefield on the battlefields of Afghanistan — one that combines a potent mix of religion and culture.