Muslims speak out about beheading

Some American Muslims are facing the questions raised by the beheading of Aasiya Hassan by her estranged husband, which we reported on here and here.  The Associated Press reports:

The crime was so brutal, shocking and rife with the worst possible stereotypes about their faith that some U.S. Muslims thought the initial reports were a hoax.

The harsh reality of what happened in an affluent suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. — the beheading of 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan and arrest of her estranged husband in the killing — is another crucible for American Muslims.

It especially shocked people — Muslim and non-Muslim — because the couple was so modern and apparently assimilated. And many have commented on the irony that they founded a TV station to improve the image of Muslims. Here are two statements from Muslims:

“Muslims don’t want to talk about this for good reason,” said Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, a Muslim author and activist. “There is so much negativity about Muslims, and it sort of perpetuates it. The right wing is going to run with it and misuse it. But we’ve got to shine a light on this issue so we can transform it.”

There is evidence of movement in that direction in the 10 days since the Hassan slaying. In an open letter to American Muslim leaders, Imam Mohamed Hagmagid Ali of Sterling, Va., vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, said “violence against women is real and cannot be ignored.”

He urged that imams and community leaders never second-guess a woman in danger, and said women seeking divorces because of physical abuse should not be viewed as bringing shame to their families.

Ah yes, those vicious right-wingers who notice things like abuse of women among Muslims. Nevertheless, this is progress. Read the whole article for some more reactions.  I’m glad to see some Muslims are talking about it. But the reaction from Muslims seems minimal, given the number of organizations devoted to advancing Islam and protecting Muslims’ rights.  A google search for CAIR and beheading brings only the news that CAIR had given the murderer an award. Will they take it back now? And a search for MSA (Muslim Student Association) and beheading brings up a report on a speech by David Horowitz at Emery University last Wednesday:

He spoke against honor killings among radical Islamists, noting the case of a Muslim television station owner who beheaded his wife in Buffalo, N.Y.

“Why isn’t there condemnation of beheadings? Because it’s in the Qu’ran? Come on!” Horowitz said, raising his hands and his voice.

Horowitz called on the Emory Muslim Students Association to protest the honor killings, adding that if the MSA does so, he will pen a personal letter of praise.

No report on how the MSA responded. But we can guess. They probably consider Horowitz the bad guy for bringing up such an offensive subject, not the Muslim who beheaded his wife.

Update 2/27/09: See my post, Beheader said headless wife can’t reach paradise.

US Census says Somalis are the poorest of the foreign-born in the US population

More in my recent series on ‘having fun with numbers.’

The US Census Bureau released late last week the 2007 demographic numbers collected by the American Community Survey.*   Here are some poverty figures from their press release:

Among people for whom poverty status is determined, about 51 percent of residents born in Somalia are living in poverty. About a quarter of the population born in Iraq, the Dominican Republic, Jordan and Mexico are also living in poverty.

On the low end of the poverty spectrum for the countries of birth, U.S. residents born in the Netherlands and Ireland each have a poverty rate of about 5 percent.

About 13 percent of both natives and the total U.S. population are living in poverty, while about 16 percent of the foreign-born are.

Additionally the Somalis are among the newest comers and have the youngest population.

Meanwhile, among the nation’s foreign-born, Somalis and Kenyans living in the United States are the most likely to be newcomers, and Somalis are among the youngest and poorest.

In fact, we reported earlier that more than half of the Somali Muslim refugees we have resettled in the US have come since 9/11.

You can get information on your community here.  

*  If you scout around at the American Community Survey, you can find even more information on your county.  It took me awhile but I found it.

For readers who like to pore over statistics, see my posts yesterday here and here.