Were the Mumbai Terrorists Muslim?

Last week’s terrorist acts in India’s financial capital left more than 180 people dead and 280 wounded. The Indian and European press is reporting that the violence has sparked widespread debate as to whether the terrorists should be considered and referred to as followers of Islam, but most of the American coverage of the attack is oblivious to what could potentially be a remarkable transformation in the Muslim world.

Immediately after the attacks, several Bollywood stars began to blog about the problem of associating Islam with terrorism. OneIndia’s web site reported that actor Aamir Khan wrote that terrorists are neither people of religion nor people of God.

“When will these politicians realise and admit that terrorists have no religion,” wrote Khan. “Terrorists are not Hindu or Muslim or Christian.”

Further, Khan attributes their actions to mental illness, not Islam.

“They are people who have gone totally sick in their head and have to be dealt with in that manner,” Khan wrote in his latest blog.

Another Indian news outlet, Rediff India, interviewed Idris Ali, the president of All-India Minority Forum, shortly after the attacks. Ali is well known in India’s Muslim community as an advocate for minority and Islamic issues as well as a harsh opponent of anti-terrorism laws. When asked about the relationship between the events in Mumbai and Islam, Ali said:

“What we must realize is Islam never propagates violence. The word Islam is derived from aslama, which means submission to the supreme power. And submission can never be achieved through bloodshed. Those 10 bloodthirsty men who slaughtered innocent Mumbaikars cannot be the followers of Islam. Had they read the Quran, they would have waved olive branches and not automatic guns.”

Echoing the thoughts of actor Khan, Ali also said, “Fanatics have no religion, terrorists have no creed. The only religion that radicals follow is carnage.”

Many Indians and Islamic believers not only refuse to call the terrorists Muslim but have also denied the dead gunman burial in their cemeteries because in their eyes the men who committed these acts are not Muslims.

(more…)




Gay Marriage Supporter: It’s Not Too Late For Civil Rights

Cabrera at San Francisco City Hall Protesting Prop. 8

Although the United States made history on Nov. 4 by electing its first African-American president, supporters of California’s No on Proposition 8 (a ban on gay marriage) suggest that American prejudice and discrimination still run deep.

After the ban on gay marriage was passed, members of the gay community have come out in cities across the country to protest. (Meanwhile, gay marriages were legally passed in Connecticut last week.) They seek respect, dignity and their civil rights, which to them means the ability to marry who they love regardless of gender. Since the election results on the measure were released, members of the gay community are troubled by the fact that blacks and Latinos voted disproportionately against the measure. And the No on 8 supporters also “estimate that members of the Mormon Church gave more than $20 million to the effort to pass the measure, though that is difficult to confirm because records of campaign donations do not include religious affiliation.”

Pop + Politics caught up with No on Proposition 8 supporter Carlos Cabrera, 26, of San Francisco, Calif. Cabrera is a single gay man who is openly concerned about the future of gay marriage in California and across the nation. Although the measure passed on Nov. 4, Cabrera and others have spent their time protesting its passage at rallies, including one this past Saturday at San Francisco’s City Hall. He has also talked to numerous family members and friends about the issue.

There are several reasons why proponents of Prop 8 don’t want gay marriage or condone homosexuality. For some people, homosexuality goes against God and other religious beliefs. While religious groups continue to question whether homosexuality is genetic or if it is a chosen lifestyle, Cabrera says that he was born this way.

“I knew I was different from the time I was a little boy around five years old. I remember having dreams (non-sexual) about men, and feeling something about them. I couldn’t place a label on it until I was a teenager, and even then, only reluctantly. Growing up in a Catholic, Latino household I was very repressed growing up. We never talked about gays.  And whenever the topic was mentioned it was either quickly dismissed or my parents would ridicule them. As a result, when I was about 14 and knew for a fact that I was “gay” it was very traumatic for me, internally. I couldn’t face this reality, nor could I accept myself as gay until I was nearly 19. That was when I started college, and I met other gay people who showed me that the stereotypes that existed on television (i.e., extremely effeminate gay men who got AIDS and were rejected by their families) weren’t reflected in their lives. In fact, they all seemed “normal” to me by most societal standards; they just happened to be gay. Later on, I gained the courage to join my school’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people) club, where I later became president and found it much more comfortable identifying openly as gay.”

P+P continued the conversation with Cabrera about his thoughts on Prop. 8.

Why is Prop 8 so important to you?
Well, it’s important to me because I believe that everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. It’s an issue of civil equity, not of privilege. And the passage of Proposition 8 saddened me because it’s discriminatory against a certain group of people who are doing nothing wrong. Moreover, it troubles me that Prop 8 was such a “wedge” issue for the religious right. Their adamant support for the measure imposes their religious beliefs on others, which I think is just plain wrong and offensive.

(more…)




McCain Supporter: Obama is a Muslim

Are you interested in what Obama is up against in the campaign for president? People still believe that Obama is a Muslim. In the video above, a McCain supporter practices free speech at an Obama rally. He’s concerned about our country electing a Muslim at this point in time. Although I am a big fan of free speech, I would have hoped the “McCain-ite” would have checked out the facts. To set the record straight: Obama is not a Muslim. Just say you don’t like him. Check it out.

-The Caramel Bella




Black Muslim Says Race, Not Religion, Is the Issue

He looks like most Americans (well, African Americans). And you definitely can’t tell he is a Muslim by his appearance. So, it would be difficult to target him based on his religion.

“I look like a regular black man in Washington, DC,” said Omari West, a 35-year old American Sunni Muslim. “Do I get targeted as a black man, now that’s another case?”

Although West acknowledges that religious bigotry against Muslims exists in the United States, he believes the primary issue is still race.

Some Americans still “cling” to the inaccurate beliefs that Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim or was sworn into Congress on the Koran instead of the bible. And as shown in a recent McCain rally, there is a portion of the American population who believes Obama is an Arab. And they’ll shout it as an insult to prove it.

West, who was born into his Islamic faith, says the Arab slur is a cover for their true beliefs.

“It’s no longer politically palatable for people to openly admit that they don’t favor a candidate because of his skin color. [African Americans] have gone through a long hard battle in this country to win the right of dignity and respect, at least in the public square.”

West attributes the veiled use of the word, Arab or Muslim, as a code word for “other” or an even more derogatory word used against Black people.

“It’s more convenient and less controversial for someone to call Obama a Muslim then it would be to call him the n-word.” That’s how the coding works.

West explained how that process occurs in multiple unconscious, yet subversive, psychological steps.

First, to tarnish Obama’s reputation, his enemies use his name Barack Hussein Obama to distinguish him and thereby paint him as an “other.” In the senator’s case, all three of his names are easily associated with the Islamic faith, said West.

“The name, Barack Hussein Obama, is of east African derivation,” said West. “It’s Arabic.”

West says the next stage is “to paint him as an enemy by associating him with Arabic and Muslim extremists.”

Obama’s middle name has received a lot of media attention because of its similarity to the notorious Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Hussein, who committed violent acts against his own people, was a Sunni Muslim.

“All of the Arab talk is code word for his skin color and voicing disapproval as a form of racial bigotry, which can’t be openly discussed,” said West.

West, who is an American-born Muslim, thinks that the veiled Arab attacks against Obama are working. He thinks the focus on race can be shown in Obama’s wavering support among union workers despite their leadership’s endorsement.

West, a graduate of Columbia’s law school and its undergraduate journalism school explained:

“Usually democrats are pro-labor because of the economic issues. They push for higher wages, unionization, etc. As a result, union workers generally vote Democratic. There is a question now whether the rank and file members will follow behind the union leaders and vote for Barack. The argument could be made that people care more about racial and cultural issues than economic.”

A recent New York Times article points to race as a reason for Obama’s lack of support from union members.

“I think race is playing a major part,” said Mac Davis Slade, a political activist with the painters’ union, to the NYT. “I think that’s why some people say, ‘Isn’t he a Muslim?’”

Although race and religion are being used against Sen. Obama, West said it is part of the reason he is supporting him for president.

“I do think those reasons – his race, culture, name and experience – go into making him the person that he is today. They are not separate from what he brings to the table. However, the most important reason is I think he’s the most competent person for the job,” said West.

The owner of his own international economic consulting firm, West explained that Obama was his choice because of his leadership on several issues like the war. He also admired the Senator’s qualifications as a legislator and his impact on international relations if elected.

In terms of overall voting patterns for Muslims, West thinks they historically lean right on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage. However, in this election people of all religions will have to consider a hierarchy of issues, which include national security, education, civil rights and civil liberties. And on these political issues, West said Muslims lean left or Democratic. A 2007 Pew study confirms that only 11% of Muslims lean right or consider themselves Republican and 63% identify with the Democratic party.

“It’s not because we’re any less pro-life or in favor of gay marriage from a faith standpoint. There are other factors that our lives depend on in this race,” said West.

He hopes the next president sets a tone of tolerance, and encourages a sharing of ideas and strengths among people of difference. This leader would point to how the variation among faiths and traditions all come from the same source, God.

Quoting from the 49:13 verse in the Koran, West states, “We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other.” For him, this statement means we learn more about ourselves by encountering and understanding the “other.”

“We are all brothers and sisters under God,” says West, “we’re all viewed as equals.”

Note: also appeared on HuffingtonPost.com and PopandPolitics.com




Osama or Obama: Freudian Slip, Intentional Jab or Honest Mistake?

According to the Albany Times Union today, Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) last name was misspelled as “‘Osama’ on hundreds of absentee ballots mailed out this week to voters in Rensselaer Country,” New York. Is this a Freudian slip or a simple mistake?

Although the Democratic and Republican county officials claim it was a “typo” and “honest mistake,” I am personally finding this screw-up a bit hard to believe. The right wing has been trying to use Osama Bin Laden and Barack Obama interchangeably as well as emphasizing the “Hussein” in Obama’s name to draw attention to his Muslim background. It is not hard for me to believe that someone wanted to underscore Obama’s “otherness” and this typo wasn’t so innocent. Besides, when does a “b” look like a “s.” And these letters aren’t anywhere close to one another on the keyboard. And for something this important, like a voting ballot, shouldn’t you have proofreaders?!

Although I am a glass half-full kind of bella, I’m not quite buying the innocent typo excuse.

smooches,

The Caramel Bella




Read something new beginning October 1: Daily Om

I discovered a new site that I love. It’s called Daily Om. For those of you unfamiliar with New Age and holistic thinking, this web site is a great place to start. It’s motto of nurturing the mind, body and spirit feels right to me. I find myself pondering several of the daily messages as I venture through my day, week and beyond. Although it may seem like a foreign concept, our minds, bodies and spirits are so interwoven. And this site does a really good job of helping us become mindful of our lives.

Today’s Daily Om is about “Unhindered Movement” and getting out of our own way. You know the saying that we are our own worst enemy. So true!! Check out this post and the site. Here is a little intro to sweeten your palette.

When you find yourself facing obstacles that appear to be blocking you from your goals, it is important to try not to get discouraged. It can be easy to feel “stuck” or that “life” is creating circumstances preventing you from getting what you want. And while it is easy to look at everyone and everything outside of ourselves for the problem, perhaps even wanting to “get rid” of the person, object, or circumstance we may feel is blocking us, sometimes the best course of action to take may be to look inside ourselves first. Read more…

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella




Pastors take politics into their own hands

I thought we had a separation of church and state in the United States. Apparently, some ministers overlooked that memo.

This past Sunday, Christian ministers across the country took the laws into their own hands by telling their congregations to vote for John McCain.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, at least 33 ministers knew they were breaking the federal tax law but chose to do so anyway in protest.

“As Christians it’s clear we should vote for John McCain,” said Rev. Fran Pulto of Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia in a Wall Street Journal. “He is the only candidate I believe a Christian can vote for.”

For these pastors, pushing conservative social values like anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage were worth the IRS investigation.
(more…)




Caramel Bella is talking about religion

Well, you all know that I can’t sit still and talk about only one topic. Even though lately, politics has been filling up my brain and consequently this blog. So, I took a slight detour on the pure politics play and wrote a piece about religion and…. politics.

Check out my recent piece entitled “Obama’s New Message for a Faith Tour” posted on the USC Knight Chair Media and Religion site. I’m excited they actually put my little ‘ole thoughts up! So check out the site and keep checking it.

Smooches,
The Caramel Bella




Does Sarah Palin Have Her Own Reverend Wright?

From the looks of a YouTube video that surfaced online Wednesday, Republican veep candidate, Sarah Palin, may have her own Reverend Wright challenges.

The Associated Press reported that the 2005 video shows the pre-governor, Sarah Palin, being blessed in her hometown Wasilla Assembly of God church. Thomas Muthee, a Kenyan Pastor who AP said has been linked to her church, is shown praying for her protection against “witchcraft” before she starts her campaign for governor of Alaska.

In addition to warding off spells, Muthee also calls on God’s help for Palin’s campaign finances. He said, “Make her way my God. Bring finances her way even for the campaign in the name of Jesus. … Use her to turn this nation the other way around.”

A few months after this blessing, Palin filed campaign paperwork and was elected governor in October 2005.

According to AP, a person from the Wasilla church has confirmed the video but declined to comment. And the McCain team has also declined to comment at this time.

Pop and Politics’s own Tara Graham offers additional insights into Palin’s Pentecostal, evangelical roots, which may or may not help to understand her 2005 witchcraft protection blessing.




Spiritual Water or Scam?

Is this for real? Is this a good way to make money? Is this spirituality at its best or the newest scam?  The company, SpirtualWater, says its company mission is changing the world’s spirit one bottle at the time. They want to
help people think positive, lift up their spirit, give them a chance to believe in themselves and let them know that God is with them!

I’d like to hear what you all think. I saw this ad and couldn’t help posting about it.

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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