Understanding persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Posted by National Catholic Reporter on September 08, 2014

Recent atrocities committed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State have drawn attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. But the issue, with deep historical roots and myriad foreign policy implications, predates the incursions of the Islamic State. Who are these Christians? What is life like for them? And what should Americans committed to cause of assisting them keep in mind while attempting to raise awareness of the issue? NCR asked James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, for his thoughts.

NCR: Help us understand the bigger picture. How should we view the persecution of...

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9/11 Families Launch Anti-Islamophobia Campaign For Anniversary Of Tragedy

Posted by Huffington Post on September 06, 2014

Family members of September 11 victims are taking a stand against Islamophobia with a new bus ad campaign designed to promote religious tolerance and interfaith unity.

"Islamophobia is not pretty," the ad reads. "Let's build bridges, not walls. Hate hurts, hope heals."

Sponsored by September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the ad's launch coincides with a symposium on gun violence and hate crimes taking place on September 6 in New York City. The symposium will encourage dialogue between panelists and audience members with the intention of discussing solutions to religious intolerance.

"We wanted to make a clear statement that...

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Local woman talks about impact of ISIS

Posted by Fox 7 Austin on September 02, 2014

The Arab American Institute Foundation reports that as of 2010 there are roughly 200,000 Arab Americans living in Texas with many right here in Austin.

Syrian born Zein Al-Jundi says she is heartbroken by the horrific images coming out of the Middle East. 

"That can't be happening to the country I know. They are beheading children. it's beyond comprehension," Al-Jundi says.

Al-Jundi owns The Arabic Bazaar, a store she says was inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern market. She used to travel to Syria several times a year to stock her shelves with wares from the country. But the civil...

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Oliver North to raise money for Franciscan Holy Land Foundation

Posted by National Catholic Reporter on August 29, 2014

Fox News commentator Lt. Col. Oliver North, of Iran-Contra Affair fame, is the scheduled keynote speaker for a Sept. 13 benefit dinner in Dallas to support the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, a U.S-based ecumenical operation dedicated to assisting persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

This raises the question: Is a polarizing political figure with a bellicose style and history of arms smuggling like North the best figure to represent a cause as serious — and nascent in the public’s imagination — as the plight of Christians in the Middle East?

In the 1980s, as a National Security...

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Garcetti: ‘My support of Israel is kind of an unshakable thing’ An interview with L.A.‘s mayor

Posted by on August 27, 2014

In late June, as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hit his one-year anniversary in the job, local media outlets gave him only passing reviews.

The Los Angeles Times characterized his governance style thus far as “low-risk,” while the L.A. Daily News said his policies have been “free of drama.” He was also criticized by one UCLA professor in the L.A. Times for being more focused on day-to-day things such as infrastructure repairs and 311 wait times than on big-picture items like the city’s poorly performing public schools.

So it may have come as a surprise to mayoral observers when, on...

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With Ferguson raging, Arabs and Jews draw parallels with African-American community

Posted by Jerusalem Post on August 25, 2014

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has come to Ferguson, or rather, inserted itself into the middle of a fight that previously had nothing to do with Jews or Arabs. Pro-Palestinians groups have begun to weigh in on what they see as issues that Palestinians face in the West Bank and Gaza every day: racial profiling, stereotyping, and militarized police. But the Jewish community in the US has also been attempting to forge a partnership with the African American community, since long before the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

On August 20th, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) released a statement expressing their...

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Don’t Judge A Religion By Its Extremists

Posted by Daily Utah Chronicle on August 24, 2014

Nearly every religion in the world has a fundamentalist or extremist sect that has distanced itself from the ideals taught by the religion they are affiliated with. Groups such as the KKK or the FLDS church claim to be Christian but act in ways that most would consider very “un-Christ like.” Yet for the most part, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Christians in general have been successful in separating themselves from association with their fundamental counterparts.

One group that struggles to distance themselves from the shadow of its extremist factions is Islam. A recent poll done...

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James Zogby: Gulf States Need to Step Up in ISIS Fight

Posted by Newsmax on August 22, 2014

America's allies in the Gulf — Jordan, Egypt and the government of North Africa – must confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a "cooperative, regional fashion" if the terror group is to be effectively dismantled, according to James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, appearing Friday onNewsmax TV's "America's Forum."  Calling it an "important challenge" for the Middle East, Zogby said the U.S. should provide "tactical assistance" but that the meat of the mission should lie with those in the region. "America can help, but needs partners on the ground to do the...

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The politics of not defending Middle Eastern Christians

Posted by The Christian Century on August 21, 2014

“Why is the world silent while Christians are being slaughtered in the Middle East and Africa?” asks Ronald S. Lauder. The World Jewish Congress president frames the question in a larger paint-by-numbers argument defending Israel’s assault on Gaza and criticizing the moral instincts of “beautiful celebrities,” reporters, and the U.N. who have not responded adequately to the brutality of Boko Haram and ISIS.

An argument like Lauder's is liable to predictable demands for greater American military involvement in the region. But the silence he names is real. Why has American reaction been so muted?

In part it's a...

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Lobbying for a ‘MENA’ category on U.S. Census

Posted by USA Today on August 14, 2014

For many Americans, checking the right box on the U.S. Census form is a reflexive gesture, whether it's marking "black," "white," "Hispanic," "Asian," "American Indian" — or all of the above.

But for Americans of Middle Eastern and North African descent, or "MENA," it's a real head-scratcher. They come in a variety of phenotypes and shades—ranging from pale to deepest ebony, and hail from 22 different countries, from Iran to Egypt to Sudan. And yet, for the census, since the beginning of the last century, the MENA community has been lumped into the "white" category.

Back in 1909, such a...

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