Mufti Menk Talks About How Nicki Minaj Follows Him On Twitter

"Mm-mashallah" – Nicki Minaj on Plain Jane (Remix) with Muslim A$AP Ferg

Mufti Menk Talks About How Nicki Minaj Follows Him On Twitter

“Mm-mashallah” – Nicki Minaj on Plain Jane (Remix) with Muslim A$AP Ferg

By

Mareena Emran
Photo of Mufti Menk shaking hands with a president, but with Nicki Minaj's face over him. / Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

 

It’s pretty common to hear Islamic phrases like “Assalamualaikum” and “MashAllah” in your favorite rap hits, but the recent discovery of rapper Nicki Minaj following popular Muslim scholar Mufti Ismail Menk on Twitter has turned the Muslim community on its head, with many speculating about Minaj’s personal religious beliefs. It’s honestly left us all in shock.

Mufti Menk of Zimbabwe is an esteemed Muslim figure on social media who is known for his motivational lectures and large platform following.

Although the entire situation may have confused many of us, Mufti Menk decided to voice his own view on the situation in a short YouTube video, explaining that Minaj following him on social media is something that is nobody’s business except her own.

 

“SubhanAllah, she happens to be following a lot of people on Twitter and Instagram…in the entertainment industry, and at the same time, for some reason, follows me,” said Mufti Menk. “Now, people are very inquisitive, but trust me, you don’t need to know.”

He also included in his statement about Minaj following him that not everyone who follows him necessarily agrees with him, and that it’s possible that Minaj is perhaps looking at Islam from a new perspective by following his Twitter page.

“Not everyone who follows you agrees with you,” said Mufti Menk. “Some people follow you because they disagree with you and they just want to see what you do. In this particular case, whatever the reason is, big deal?”

Mufti Menk’s follow up video has gained over 420k views as of August 18th, and has also been circulating around Instagram and Twitter, reaching thousands more.

The news of Minaj following Mufti Menk has received mixed reviews over the internet, and a lot of young fans have stormed TikTok with videos of their reactions as well.

With all the TikToks, Tweets and memes being made about the situation, Mufti Menk hopes that his followers understand the importance of spreading positivity regardless of Minaj’s religious affiliations.

“I’m happy, and I pray, InshAllah, that it’s a means of goodness for everyone, and a means of guidance for one and all,” said Mufti Menk. 

So, the question still lingers, is Minaj making plans to go to Izlam? We won’t know until she makes a legitimate statement, but her Plain Jane remix may have spoken for itself.

READ MORE: Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season.

Netflix Cancels Hasan Minhaj’s ‘Patriot Act’ After Six Seasons

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season.

By

Rania Rizvi

American-Muslim comedian Hasan Minhaj announced that his political comedy Netflix show, Patriot Act, will not be renewed for another season. 

“What a run. @patriotact has come to an end,” wrote Minhaj. “Thank you to @netflix and everyone who watched.” 

While some fans are happy to see Minhaj moving on from the show to start other projects, many upset fans believe the show was deliberately cancelled due to the controversial nature of the topics discussed. 

From being banned in Saudi Arabia for discussing the alleged corruption of the royal family to delving into the highly polarizing debates on police, marijuana, and the American prison system, Patriot Act dared to cover some of the most polarizing topics in politics today. 

Even the title of the show, Patriot Act, showed that Minhaj was not one to shy from controversy. Minhaj’s powerful play on words of the USA Patriot Act, a controversial policy implemented by the Bush administration that has historically been abused to unlawfully criminalize Muslim post-9/11, made a statement that encapsulated not only Minhaj’s willingness push the envelope, but to punch back at beasts like religious injustice.

 

 

However fans believe that this fact, along with Minhaj’s Muslim, “POC identity” are the reasons for its cancellation. 

“Netflix cancelling Patriot Act is not just an indication of the fact that they don’t want to center voices of color, but instead (I think) an indication of the fact that Hasan Minhaj and [his] team took risks and made people uncomfortable — and that was too much for Netflix,” tweeted a disgruntled fan. 

The show premiered on Netflix on October 28, 2018, and within two years, Minhaj produced 39 episodes that covered a wide range of sociopolitical issues presented in an interactive, talk show format. Prior to coronavirus, the show was filmed in New York City in front of a live audience, before switching to the more one-on-one format of the last season. 

Ranging from covering topics as serious as the aforementioned ones to overpriced designer products and the slave-like work culture of the video game industry, the show’s content diversity and edu-comedy style allowed Minhaj to reach millions and educate others about critical issues around the globe. 

Many fans have even said that the show’s episodes are so informative that they’ve been able to complete assignments and get As on final projects because of Minhaj. 

Regardless of the show’s cancellation, Patriot Act

has undoubtedly created waves that nobody was anticipating. Minhaj’s brazenly unabashed and witty commentary combined with his energetic stage presence made Patriot Act not only popular, but an influential force on Gen-Z. 

More importantly, Minhaj’s unwillingness to stick to the status quo of making stereotypical “brown jokes” and belittling his ethnicity for the sake of “relatability” has set a new precedent for POC creators to own their identities as a part of their experience, not as the punchline. 

Fans took to Twitter to reflect on the show fondly. 

“I loved Patriot Act because the show challenged the status quo… they taught their fans to stand up for what’s right, whether or not that was popular. Forever grateful,” tweeted a fan.

 

While the show may be cancelled and the next moves of Minhaj are unknown, fans are hopeful that he will deliver. Many of the top comments under Minhaj’s Instagram post are positive, stating that they “can’t wait for what’s next” and believe that this is “just the beginning” for Minhaj. But until then, we are just going to have to watch the reruns (Netflix, at least let us reminisce, it’s the least you can do).

READ MORE: Hasan Minhaj Breaks Down The Yemen Crisis On ‘Patriot Act’

How One TikToker Is Shutting Down The “Basic Black Kurta” Eid Fit Trend

Black kurtas are a staple for basic Muslim men during Eid. Here's why one TikTok star is tired of being basic.

How One TikToker Is Shutting Down The “Basic Black Kurta” Eid Fit Trend

Black kurtas are a staple for basic Muslim men during Eid. Here’s why one TikTok star is tired of being basic.

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Eid is a special time in the Muslim community for a number of different reasons. From the special Eid prayer, down to securing the Eidi bag, this occasion is unlike any other. But even with all of the festivities, there’s one super important piece to making the celebration feel complete: your Eid fit.

With just a quick glance, it’s pretty typical that you’ll find your Instagram and Twitter feeds flooded with black kurtas, but 20-year-old Emad Ahmed changed the game this year.


Ahmed had no hesitation ensuring that he wowed the crowd with his outfit for Eid Al-Adha, sporting a bright pink kurta with a bedazzled seam and collar. He featured his suit in a TikTok video which gained the attention of nearly 30,000 people. His video now has over 3,000 likes, and was even duetted by a number of other Muslim TikTok creators who wanted to follow Ahmed’s footsteps in switching up their outfit choice for the holiday.

“I was kind of afraid of how my friends would react,” Ahmed said. “There’s a big culture around toxic masculinity, but I was just like, ‘you know what, let’s make a statement, I’m just going to go for it,’ and I posted the video.”

Prior to posting his Eid fit video, Ahmed had voiced his concerns through a private TikTok video about the black kurta trend on Eid, explaining how it feeds into the culture of Desi stereotypes and sexualization of men. 

“I personally believe that guys shouldn’t be sexualizing girls, especially on a platform like this (TikTok),” Ahmed said. “There are so many big TikTokers who are just like, ‘Oh my God! When a guy walks into a room with a black kurta he looks so clean, so hot,’ and I think it’s dumb, because you wearing something is not going to define how good looking you are. I think people are missing the entire point with this black kurta stuff.”

Ahmed also went on to talk about the pressure of fitting into modern societal gender norms.

“I know a lot of guys that are so sensitive, in Western society especially, that when girls say something about them, they feel pressured to do exactly that, just like wearing a black kurta,” Ahmed said. “If a girl thinks that black kurtas are hot, boys will feel the need to wear a black kurta (to impress them), when in reality, it should all be about pleasing yourself and spreading positivity around you.”

After posting the private TikTok, Ahmed was approached by another creator, Nabeel Mian, to collaborate via the duets feature on the app, telling Ahmed that he would support by wearing a bright colored kurta as well.

“The morning Emad posted his kurta video, he had actually commented on his video tagging me that he wants to see what I’m wearing for eid, and with this, I had an idea and thought of making a duet with him,” said Mian. “My eyes landed on this new sky blue colored kurta and I thought it would be perfect to wear alongside my buddy Emad.”

Ahmed and Mian’s duetted video paved the way for more duet videos to be made, and also gave the two creators a chance to connect and bond with one another. The video amassed around 8,000 views and around 2,000 likes.

“I found Emad about a month ago around when he first started, I could see he was going to grow very big so I wanted to support him through it,” Mian said. “I did this to hopefully inspire people to join with us and start a chain so we could still do a collaboration. Sure, girls can say they love it all they want over social media, but we all know being unique and different is what truly stands out over anything else. Emad’s video is a perfect example because he was able to attract social media without following the standards it had set out.”

Both Ahmed and Mian hope to continue changing the face of Desi and Muslim TikTok with more collaborations. They both hope to break the chain of toxic masculinity on the platform while also embracing their individuality through their content.

“This generation will be the generation to break stereotypes, and doing so is very important, because our culture in the past has always been worrying about what others would think and say about us,” Mian said. “My question to everyone is whether they would feel better if they were to follow a trend or start a trend. I’m sure it would mean much more to them to start one. If that is the case for them, then that can only be done by embracing a unique fashion sense to truly stand out and be noticed.”

READ MORE: Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

The Stigma Of Menstruation In Muslim Households

We spoke with the chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University, Atiya Aftab, about the stigma of menstruation in Muslim households.

By

Syeda Khaula Saad
Art - Ameena Muhammad

 

There is a lot of shame embedded into the upbringing of Muslim women. Through patriarchal cultural practices that have been passed down and mistaken for “words of Allah,” we are raised to be shrunken. And oftentimes it isn’t until we’re sitting in the midst of our adulthood desperately trying to unlearn the feelings of disgust we feel toward ourselves that we realize how heavy the weight of misogyny has become. And it starts off young. 

We are often taught that the foremost “confirmation” of our womanhood is the first red droplets we see on our underwear at the beginning of puberty — this moment, known as menarche, signals the start of menstruation. At meager ages of 11, 12, 13, we are told “You’re a woman now!” and the first reasoning? Your body has the ability to bear children. But rather than celebrate it, it’s met with secrecy. We are told to disguise cramps as “stomachaches,” to sneak pads into our pockets as we go to restrooms, and to do anything to avoid letting men in our homes become even slightly conscious that we are menstruating. In Muslim households we are drilled with the idea that we are “impure” in the eyes of Allah and that we should steer clear of the men in the house entirely. But Middle Eastern Studies Program and Political Science adjunct professor and chair of the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University Atiya Aftab says these views come from culture, not religion. 

“A menstruating woman is not seen as dirty or lesser due her menstruating status,” Aftab tells Muslim.co. “In Islam, menstruation is not seen in any way as a divine punishment.” She explains that these interpretations have been morphed from religious traditions surrounding the status of a menstruating woman. For example, a woman on her period is exempted from fasting during the month of Ramadan (though she is expected to make up the fasts at a later time) and she is also exempted from the obligatory five daily prayers. While this is often pointed at as a justification to regard menstruating women as “impure” or “dirty,” Aftab feels differently. 

“In the case of fasting, it is a hardship for a menstruating woman to abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk,” she says. “Hydration, nutrition, and possibly medication [is] needed.” Therefore, the same mercy that is given to those who are sick is extended to menstruating women. “With respect to prayer, it is required that a person who is engaged in the daily formal prayer must be in a state of ritual purity (wudu/ghusl),” Aftab explains. “A person who is bleeding — male or female — is not a ritual state of purity.” So, it is not the fact that the blood is coming out from the vagina that makes a woman unable to pray, but the fact that she is bleeding at all. 

So why are menstruating women so taboo in many Muslim households?  Most of the feelings in regard to menstruating women date back to pre-Islamic culture, Aftab explains. “Men would refuse to go near their wives, eat or drink with their wives, or sleep in the same bed when they were menstruating,” she says. And it wasn’t just Muslim households where this was occurring.

Negative feelings toward menstruation exist in Jewish households as well, where followers believed that even those who touched a menstruating woman would be deemed unclean. These same stigmas persist even today in many Asian cultures including in India, Pakistan, Japan, and Indonesia. 

But despite these negative generalizations about menstruation, many of the ones that exist in regard to Islam are more cultural than they are religious. In fact, Aftab says it is reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told his companions that, regarding their wives, husbands should “Do everything with her except for sexual intercourse.” (Muslim; ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari). 

In fact, Aftab recalls a beautiful story regarding the Prophet (PBUH) and his wife, Aisha.

Aisha related that: “The Prophet would recline on my lap while I was menstruating and he would read the Quran.” (Bukhari). And the Prophet and his wife Aisha shared the same drinking vessel while she was menstruating. Aisha stated: “I would drink while menstruating, then pass the vessel to the Prophet. He would place his mouth on the (same) place as my mouth and drink…” 

“The actions of the Prophet demonstrated that a menstruating woman was not impure or dirty and was fully capable of engaging in aspects of normal life in the following tradition,” Aftab says. In the same story, Aisha reported that: “The Messenger of God said to me, ‘Get me the prayer mat from the prayer area.’ I replied, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Verily, your menstruation is not in your hand.’” (Muslim). If the wife of the Prophet had no issues expressing that she was menstruating, why do we encourage girls to hide their periods from their fathers, brothers, and eventually husbands?

The Prophet (PBUH) has laid a foundation to regard women with utmost respect — and a state of menstruation does not warrant a change in that. The perpetuation of menstruation stigma is hurting Muslim women in irreversible ways. Years after the fact, feelings of anxiousness and shame surrounding our bodies remain. It is up to both women and men to recognize where they might be perpetuating misogynistic practices surrounding women’s bodies and work to fix these mistakes. Menstruating is one of the most natural things that can happen to a woman. By shunning it and teaching girls to keep it a secret, we are teaching them that there is something biologically wrong with them. The outside world is already bent on bringing down the Muslim woman — there is no need to do the same within their own households. 

“Menarche should not be hidden, but celebrated,” Aftab says. 

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here's what this 'peace deal' means for Palestinians.

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here’s what this ‘peace deal’ means for Palestinians.

By

Samer Hassan
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

The leaders of the Zionist government of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal that would normalize relations between the two governments. While the UAE has long maintained quiet relations with Israel, this public deal sets a dangerous precedence for the Middle East: one that says, we don’t care about your human rights track record, because profit and strategic cooperation trumps all.

Israel has shown the world that its efforts to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank were not only met with impunity but ultimately rewarded by a public treaty. One that establishes friendly relations between an autocracy that purports to have Palestinians’ best interest at heart, and a Zionist government that has referred to Palestinians as barbarians and vermin.

Israel has codified its unequal treatment of Palestinians. By building Jewish-only roads in the occupied territories, encircling whole villages inside a net of concrete walls, and systematically imprisoning hundreds of Palestinian children, the Zionist state hammers down all efforts to build a viable Palestinian future. 

According to the United Nations, illegal Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians has skyrocketed by over 70% in 2020 alone. This is a government that has bulldozed Palestinian attempts to build a hospital for COVID-19 patients, maintains over 147 heavily armed checkpoints, and continues to expand its separation wall deep inside Palestinian land. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised this new deal by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.” There is no peace in the Middle East because governments that ally themselves with the West are allowed to murder their inhabitants with impunity while pointing the finger at others that dare to seek justice. 

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, strategically adding, “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu, Bin Zayed, and Donald Trump released a joint statement saying they hoped the “historic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East.”

To a Palestinian like me, this treaty has unequivocally ignored the calls of my people — a call that demands the world hold Israel accountable for its rampant destruction of Palestinian homes, murder of Palestinians who dare to organize, and efforts to label us terrorists and anti-semites when we call out Israel’s racist laws designed to keep us in perpetual poverty and dependency. By using the false narrative that this agreement will bring peace, the UAE signals to the world that it truly does not have the interest of Palestinians at heart. Crown Prince Bin Zayed is now officially complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. 

Middle Eastern governments need to show Israel that its efforts to apply sovereignty over the Occupied West-Bank comes with international consequences like sanctions, not treaties.


Samer Hassan is Palestinian activist who graduated with a degree in Political Science from Columbia University.

China Forces Birth Control On Uyghur Women To Suppress Muslim Population, Says New Report

China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Written by Wali Ahmed & Nawal Qadir

China has allegedly been forcefully subjecting Uyghur women to various birth control methods in an attempt to reduce and eliminate the minority population, according to a report by China specialist Adrian Zenz.  The news comes as Uyghurs continue to be detained in concentration camps in Xinjiang. It is believed that approximately one million Uyghur people, as well as other minority groups, are being held in what China refers to as “re-education” camps.  

China has responded by calling it “fake news,” stating that the allegations are “baseless.” However, China had initially denied the existence of the detention camps before justifying them as a “necessary measure against terrorism.”

Zenz’s report states that since 2016, reproductive autonomy and its associated human rights have continuously been interfered with in Xinjiang. Uyghur women who refuse to abort pregnancies that exceed the quota of two children are threatened to be forced into internment camps. It additionally states that women with fewer than two children were forced to have sterilization surgeries or take intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Formerly detained individuals also say that they were given injections to halt their periods.

However, the Han Chinese population are reportedly spared the various birth control measures forced on Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities.

 

READ MORE: Trump Signs Bill Rebuking China’s Treatment Of Uyghur Muslims

 

An investigation by AP News has found that the humanitarian violations are far more widespread and systemic than previously thought.  The investigation shows that the current treatment of Uyghur Muslims in these camps could amount to “demographic genocide,” meaning that China could successfully and covertly eradicate the Uyghur population in just a few generations.  “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs,” Zenz said. “Overall, it is likely that Xinjiang authorities are engaging in the mass sterilization of women with three or more children.”

Joanne Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University goes further, saying ““It’s genocide, full stop.” “It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide – but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide.”

Adrian Zenz’s data suggests that the natural population growth in predominantly Uyghur regions  has fallen by more than 60% between 2015 and 2018, a drop which he describes as “unprecedented” and “ruthless.”

“These findings provide the strongest evidence yet that Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang meet one of the genocide criteria cited in the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” says Zenz in his report.

One former Uyghur detainee, Zumret Dawut, was forcibly sterilized along with 200 others. Dawut was put into an internment camp for two months for holding an American visa. She had later returned home but was placed under house arrest, was forced to have gynaecological exams on a monthly basis, and was threatened to be placed in a camp again should she not comply.

“They want to eliminate us, but they can’t kill all of us,” she said. “They’re doing it step by step with policies such as sterilization, imprisonment, separating men and women and making them work as forced laborers.” 

Forced sterilization isn’t a new trend for China, which for a long time had a one-child-per-household policy. However, in recent years, and especially under President Xi Jinping, the sterilization programs have been concentrated in the Uyghur minority areas, turning the countryside region of Xinjiang from one of the fastest growing populations in China to the slowest in just a few years. 

 

The news of forced birth control methods come as an addition to the internment and forced labour in Uyghur detention camps, as well as the separation of Uyghur children from their parents in order to indoctrinate them, practices that have been widely criticized by human rights organizations around the world, and which China continues to deny or defend.

 

Israel Expected To Move Forward With Annexation Plans, Leaving Palestinians Hopeless

Israel plans to annex Palestinian territory as part of its 'peace plan', starting July 1st.

Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes and subsequent occupation of their land has been an ongoing tragedy since at least 1948. Now with the latest developments in Israel’s policy of expansion and occupation, this historic land is set to  become even more divided. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring new annexation proposals of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea before the cabinet from 1 July.

So, what is annexation?

Annexation describes when one state unilaterally (without permission of the other) incorporates  neighboring territory from another state into its borders. Annexation is usually considered illegal according to international law.

No surprise, Prime Minister Netanyahu made things starkly clear, when on May 28 2020  he explained that if his government goes ahead with unilateral annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, thousands of Palestinian residents would be granted neither citizenship nor equal rights. 

The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967, making it the longest ongoing occupation in modern history. The segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Gaza Strip is a small coastal area bordering Egypt to the south, and the West Bank is the kidney bean-shaped area that lies west of the banks of the Jordan River, from where it gets its name. A total of 5 million people occupy these areas.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The Illegal Israeli Settlements:

Israeli settlements are Jewish communities built on Palestinian land. There are between 600,000 – 750,000 Israeli settlers living in at least 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem; almost half of these settlements are not officially recognized by the state but have been established regardless

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies.

In 2019, the Trump administration declared that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land were “not necessarily illegal,” a substantial break from decades of US foreign policy.

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

The latest annexation plans to be confirmed by the Israeli prime minister would pose a serious threat to the Palestinians. The annexation of the Jordan Valley would completely surround the Palestinians with Israeli borders.  Currently, Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley receive 18 times more water on average than Palestinian residents in the West Bank; most Palestinian farmers are not connected to the water grid and have to rely on buying water from tankers. Annexation would mean that Palestinians would be physically cut off from the Jordan River, forcing Palestinians to be without a vital water source. This annexation would also pave the way for more settlements to be built; currently, any new  construction in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defense minister and prime minister which can take months or even years. Following annexation, Israel would consider the Jordan Valley part of its territory and so any construction would become a domestic matter and wouldn’t require such approval.  

 

Photo - Al Jazeera

 

Palestinian views on this annexation plans:

The Palestinian leadership, along with almost 50 experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, say that annexation would formalize a system of “apartheid” in the West Bank – two peoples ruled by one state in the same space with unequal rights. Now, in a bid to increase international pressure to avert annexation, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, including on security. Some also fear that suspension of such agreements, if fully delivered, could result in  a collapse of the PA and potentially lead to chaos in the West Bank. Amid the bitter divisions in Palestinian politics, the militant group Hamas – the main rival of President Abbas’ Fatah movement – could try to capitalize and is warning of a confrontation with Israel. Abbas said annexation would amount to the “destruction” of a future Palestinian state, and suggests accepting current plans make the PA “a bunch of traitors – that we will not be.”

Annexation will make things worse: short-term risks include the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and Egypt with its de facto allies in the Gulf, and, above all, a resurgence of violence that could make the last intifada look mild. It will also destabilize an already volatile region, offering rich opportunities for Iran and Hezbollah, the Islamist militant party in Lebanon, to further exploit and destabilize the region.

And as usual the Palestinian people will suffer directly. Annexation will lead to massive expropriation – the taking of private property by the state – automatic in some cases, of Palestinian land and property, the subsequent expulsion of individuals, families and entire communities from the annexed territories, in addition to the above listed socio-political threats. And the situation in blockaded Gaza, home to two million Palestinians, will undoubtedly worsen.

If annexation of any territory goes ahead it will flagrantly breach international law and countless UN resolutions, and  cannot be ignored. Israel should and must face sanctions. Worst of all,  it will signal the failure of what for decades has been rightly seen as the only possible solution to the world’s most divisive conflict – two sovereign states for the two peoples who inhabit the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river. And that suggests a future without hope for the Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Man At A Checkpoint In Occupied West Bank

Trump Declares Houses of Worship ‘Essential’ Urging Governors to Reopen Them Immediately

Churches, synagogues and mosques provided “essential services”, Trump says. Pushing for local governments to ensure their re-opening.

Trump Declares Houses of Worship ‘Essential’ Urging Governors to Reopen Them Immediately

Churches, synagogues and mosques provided “essential services”, Trump says. Pushing for local governments to ensure their re-opening.

By

Mareena Emran
Imam Mohamed Nuh Dahir stands where would typically be a packed mosque for Friday prayer at the Islamic Center of St. Cloud. Paul Middlestaedt for MPR News

 

May 23, 2020President Donald J. Trump called upon governors this Friday to reopen houses of worship amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during a White House briefing, claiming that churches, synagogues and mosques provided “essential services” and that local governments should do so “right now.” 

This declaration was made after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) newest guidelines for communities of faith were announced, stating that, “gathering together for worship is at the heart of what it means to be a community of faith,” but also warned that these gatherings may, “present a risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19 during this public health emergency.”

As social distancing protocols vary by state, many governors have been faced with the issue of releasing consistent plans to loosen restrictions, and Trump openly opposed their decisions of opening businesses, such as liquor stores and abortion clinics, before religious establishments. 

Although the CDC released general guidelines for school and businesses last week, houses of worship were not specifically mentioned, as the White House raised concerns about the restrictions regarding faith-based groups, as reported by the Associated Press

“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united,” President Trump said. “We need more prayer, not less.”

Trump’s decision was also met with backlash, as Olivia Lapeyrolerie, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy press secretary, said that large gatherings would not be advisable, and especially that gathering for worship would jeopardize New Yorkers’ health.

Lapeyrolerie’s worries extend far beyond New York, as Houston was recently among the first to reopen its Catholic churches again, but not after long, was forced to close and cancel mass indefinitely after the death of a priest and five others testing positive for coronavirus.

During Easter and Passover, churches and synagogues remained closed, which encouraged worshippers to attend virtual and parking lot services across the nation. This resulted in the overall reduced risk of COVID-19 exposure, while prompting communities to “flatten the curve.”

With Eid-al-Fitr approaching this weekend, mosques across the country have followed the same procedures, urging Muslims to celebrate and pray at home. As Eid is typically celebrated out with friends and extended family, many have come to realize that this one will be spent in isolation, breaking from tradition. 

Trump’s plan of action is still under question, as the President does not have any legal authority to override governors’ decisions. It will be up to the discretion of each state’s governors to appoint the re-openings of religious institutions.

READ MORE: SUV Smashes Into Hijab Shop In Sydney, Injuring 14 People