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American Muslims Working to Protect Equal Rights of Minorities in Middle East

Working for equal rights across the globe for minorities is a priority for many American Muslims who have themselves learned from their own “minority experience.” American Muslims were recently in Doha developing ways of ensuring the “protection of equal rights of minorities in the Middle East” (h/t: MF):

American Muslims Working to Protect Equal Rights of Minorities in Middle East


Muslim American’s continue with their persistent and consistent efforts at highlighting the critical importance of promoting and protecting “equal rights” for minorities in the Middle East.

Central to the struggles and reforms emerging across the Middle East from the Arab Spring are questions of how to ensure the protection of freedom, tolerance, and economic sustainability for all people, particularly minority groups.

In an effort to develop an international strategy for social stability and economic development in the Middle East, the State of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UCLA Center for Middle East Development gathered community leaders and activists from across the globe this week in Doha for a conference focusing on enriching the future of the Middle East.  The conference was held in conjunction with the 12th Annual Doha Forum.

ISNA Director of Community Outreach Mohamed Elsanousi participated in a workshop focusing on the “Future of Religious Minorities in the Region.” Elsanousi’s participation in the workshop was a part of ISNA’s ongoing work with Muslim leaders worldwide to promote Islamic standards and develop protocols that protect religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities, in Muslim-majority countries.

“In Islam, we are taught that all people are equal and should not be discriminated against in any way based on their religion,” stated Elsanousi.  “It is our responsibility as Muslims to promote programs and policies that protect freedom of religion for all people in the emerging democracies across the Arab Spring to ensure the repression of the old regimes is never allowed to take root again.”

The workshop highlighted examples from Islamic history, such as the covenant of Medina, which thrived under a system of law that guaranteed equal rights for all people in a Muslim majority community.

The workshop also echoed many of the strategies shared by ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and other leaders during last week’s ISNA co-sponsored symposium on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Islam.

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  • Sarah Brown

    Geji – I don’t quite understand your point. I think I can be excused from charges of loon-acy on various grounds:

    opposed to opposition to so called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’
    opposed to ban on minarets in Switzerland
    opposed to bans on religious dress
    Very happy to acknowledge Muslims/strands within Islam which are opposed to punishments for apostasy and so on – no wish at all to mirror extremist Muslims by insisting that only the harshest form of Islam is the correct one.
    Think Spenser and particularly Geller are bonkers

    But – I also think that quite a few Muslim majority countries do place limits on religious freedom, eg the recent case of the Turkish pianist Fezil Say who faces blasphemy charges. Also – although I don’t think this should be invoked against mosques in the UK or US as though Muslims in those countries should be held in any way responsible – restricting worship, building/repairing churches, encouraging conversion to Islam through unfair inheritance laws

    and so on.

  • Steve

    “Wow Steve! So let me get this straight, not only are you demanding *all* Muslims to agree on everything”

    I am not demanding that at all, I don’t really care what people believe. If being religious means picking and choosing the bits you like and ignoring the bits you don’t like to create a personal religion then that’s fine. I am not sure where a god says you can do that but gods seem to have little place in religions.

  • Géji

    Sarah Brown, thanks for the “wikipedia” info, already saw it, funny page indeed yes? very accurate on Islam and 98% of the global Muslim community!

  • VRM

    It is heartening to see that people are standing up and speaking for rights of minorities.
    Let’s not be skeptical, and hope that their efforts will bear fruits.

  • Sarah Brown

    @Geji – there is some relevant info here – a list of countries where apostasy is punishable by death.

    I completely agree that Islamists and Islamophobes can mirror each other though.

  • Géji

    Just Stopping By .. “Though if there is one groups that Americans can perhaps find inferior, it would probably be Canadians. Right, Géji?”

    Oh come-on JSB! give you guys a little credit, you fine Americans though may know we’re tired copy of you at times( most of the time maybe?)?, but inferior? that’s a disastrous recipe for invasion hey!

  • Géji

    Just a reminder Steve

    “Say! O you who disbelief, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship, nor will I worship of what you worship, nor will you worship of what I worship. To you be your belief, and to me be mine” — Sura Al-Kafirun [109:1–6]

  • Géji

    @Steve Says: “They are muslim or they aren’t – if they don’t agree with islam then they aren’t muslims”

    Wow Steve! So let me get this straight, not only are you demanding *all* Muslims to agree on everything, but now you’re saying if they don’t -“then they aren’t muslims” – ?? lol, boy, you must be something else! So, if we go by according to you, let’s say for example that a Muslim knows that Islam requires not to drink alcohol or eat pork meat, but violates that command, so consequently then that should put them out of the fold of Islam, thus no longer Muslim ?? Did you even know Mr Steve that even Allah – their maker – doesn’t demand such perfection of Muslims ? by allowing them chances to come-back from whatever ?!

    > “if islam claims religious freedoms why are most muslim societies against that”

    1 – Most definition: Greatest in number, in the greatest quantity – an example of ‘most’ is someone doing something about 98% percent of the time.

    Thus, can you please kindly provide the proof where that lends about 98% (or so) of Muslim societies are against the religious freedom Islam requires ? We find out you couldn’t provide the Quranic Surah that state Islam is against religious freedom, now, lets see if you’ll be able to bring where you got that about 98% or so Muslim societies are against religious freedom!

  • Steve, on your point;

    ‘They are muslim or they aren’t – if they don’t agree with islam then they aren’t muslims’

    This is something I find thrown into the ring quite a lot when someone is ‘loosing’ an argument about what Islam is or isn’t; if Islam doesn’t conform to exactly what said person arguing believes is ‘true’. It is often, as is in your case, not backed up by any texts or sources which of course begs the question as to who is right here. I might add that this ploy is also used by some of the more extreme Muslims as a form of control but I see it used by ‘anti-Islam’ groups more and more (and it is yet again ironic that anti-Islam and Islamic extremists both agree on so much). It is at the end of the day a pretty weak argument.

    The thing is, Islam, on its most basic level, is submission to God, all the rest is assorted bits bolted onto the larger ideal of submission. You cannot simply say ‘he is not a Muslim because he doesn’t do such and such’, in fact Islam itself says only God decides who is or isn’t a Muslim since He knows our intentions. There have been, and always will be, many different opinions on what is what under the banner of Islam. As Géji points out there has never been anything in the world that every human has agreed on so

    As for why so many groups deny the ‘right’ to leave Islam, may I point out that just a few generations ago such a ‘right’ was denied to most Christians yet today it is commonplace. I think there is a wariness amongst Muslim leadership that, in reality, they feel they have done a pretty bad job of keeping Muslims as Muslims and that thus if they said ‘apostasy is OK’ they’d suddenly be left standing by themselves which blocks a lot of the debate. This comes about from the fact that they sit in their ivory towers with little knowledge of the common Muslim, an accusation that can be fairly leveled at many of the high and mighty ‘holier than thou’. What they fail to realize is that, given the opportunity, most Muslims would not chose to leave Islam and once that realization sinks in you’ll see more debate on it.

    Then of course we have the political issue where sides will play the religion card to their advantage, apostasy being one of the aces in the deck. Again this will dwindle over time.

    But again, you can’t be using this as an ‘argument’ as to what Islam teaches, unless you’d care to be bringing along your sources now.

  • Just Stopping By; in your case yes, a cardboard box, ruler, copious amounts of glue and ‘carol candles’ made a serviceable Menorah that generations will no doubt treasure! But everyone should have seen some of the other more ‘advanced’ items I’ve had built by/for guest’s other festivals… some of the Chinese stuff can be quite complicated.

  • Steve

    “Since you expect 1.5 billion of human beings who happen to be Muslims to be so perfect in agreeing on everything”

    They are muslim or they aren’t – if they don’t agree with islam then they aren’t muslims – if islam claims religious freedoms for all why are most muslim societies against that? Maybe those societies aren’t muslim in which case the claim for 1.5 billion is nonsense. I am happy to bend to the opinion on here that islam allows freedom of religion but by the same token people on here must realise that the ummah is much reduced by that.

  • Géji

    @Steve, although Just Stopping By perfectly gave your due before me, I’ll just highlight your nonsensical coin..

    You first asked – “So in islam the christian, the jew, the hindu, the satanist, the zoroastrian, the buddhist, the atheist etc all have equal rights and freedoms as the muslim?”

    – And to answer your question I’ve respond – Yes! All of them have full equal right and freedom in Islam. That’s a Quranic command! Disagree? then should I dare you to bring the Surah of the Qur’an that state otherwise?

    Then you came back with – “cool, and all muslims agree with that?”

    1 – Since you expect 1.5 billion of human beings who happen to be Muslims to be so perfect in agreeing on everything, or else if one goes astray from the perfect-line *all* Muslims expected to queue, then lets call Islam to the court-bench as to why, can you point to me any other community on earth where you expect meeting or managed to meet such expectation you placed on “all” the Muslims? can you just name ONE, per-favor?!

    2- Where in your first question did you even mentioned the word “muslim”? didn’t you asked – So in islam the christian, the jew, the hindu … ? – so why the sudden change from Islam to “all muslims”
    ? Is it because you couldn’t bring the Quranic Surah I’ve asked that speaks for Islam, is that it?

  • Garibaldi

    @hard core atheist,

    What question are you asking, exactly?

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