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Today’s Top Tweet – Muslim youth in US reaching out to Toronto for help

Okay look. America is a great country, we all know that. The nation has an impressive store of achievements. It dominates many aspects of global culture. And Anderson Cooper is the best newsperson, anywhere. Supergirl is pretty amazing too.  😉

But I have to laugh when I hear those long-winded speeches about how America is the greatest country on Earth. Put simply, Canada is decades ahead in terms of cultural integration. Some Americans might cringe at that notion. In fact, some visitors from the US have. When faced with the multicultural reality of downtown Toronto, some of our sheltered US acquaintances have been visibly rattled.

My family had Chinese/Australian neighbors in the 1960s and 70s. Best neighbors we could have hoped for. Friendly, fun to hang out with. But they also minded their own business. So as a kid I got a good introduction to living with people who look different and who hold beliefs distinct from our own (there was a big seated Buddha in their front hall, which I found intriguing). In fact, we didn’t even think about it. We just had a good time playing ball hockey, basketball, ping pong, badminton, you name it.

And driving to the nearest mall, back then called Thorncliffe, we were introduced to a wide range of peoples. Even in the 1970s.

So the next time I hear that America is “the greatest place on Earth,” I’ll chuckle again. And hope that next year, less Muslim youth feel compelled to call Toronto for the help they’re not getting from their fellow Americans.

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Muslims Have Many Allies Against Hate Crimes

Image via Wikipedia - Click for fullsize

Image via Wikipedia – Click for fullsize

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

The FBI reports that hate crimes against Muslims in the USA rose in 2015 to their highest levels since the aftermath of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. In 2015, there were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 incidents in 2014, an increase of 67%.

The total is second only to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes following the 9/11/01 terror attacks, when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported. Fortunately, Muslims have many allies in the Anti-Hate Crime fight.

Scapegoating (blaming innocent minorities for widespread discontent and anxieties within the majority population) is wide spread in the USA so there are many different groups of people who are victims of hate crimes; which are not just directed against Muslims.

Attacks against LGBT, immigrants, blacks, women and Jews have also increased.

Jews have a very long history of being scapegoated for the ills of various European states, and are especially aware of the danger of scapegoating as an ill-conceived way of solving problems in the general society.

Thank God the anti-haters are now getting aroused, and that Jews are well represented among those opposing the attempt to scapegoat all Muslims for the sins of a very violent politicized few.

Although hate crimes against Muslims rose by 67%, in actual numbers, the 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias were less than 5% of the total 5,850 reported hate crimes, and just under 22 percent of the 1,402 anti-religious hate crimes.

Of the 5,850 reported hate crimes in 2015:
59.2 percent of all victims were targeted because of bias against race or ethnicity;
19.7 percent were victimized because of bias against religion; and
17.7 percent were targeted because of bias against sexual orientation.

There are lots of hate filled individuals in America; and they have lots of different groups that they can hate. Often they hate several different scapegoats.

Of the 1,402 victims of anti-religious hate crimes:
52.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by their offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
21.9 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
4.3 percent were victims of anti-Roman Catholic bias.
3.6 percent were victims of anti-Eastern Orthodox Christian bias.
3.4 percent were victims of anti-Protestant bias.

Religious-based hate crimes increased by 23% from 2014 to 2015. Many people expect that hate crime incidents for 2016 will rise by at least 1-3,000.

On the other hand, the Anti-Defamation League, which combats anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, saw a 50-fold increase in online donations on the day after the election.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and outreach group, gained more than 500 volunteers in the two days after the election.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which supports women’s reproductive rights, received donations from nearly 200,000 people in the week after the election, about 40 times more than in a typical week, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which defends the civil rights of individuals, said on Monday it had received more than $7 million from about 120,000 donations over the five days after the election. During the same period after the 2012 election, the group collected less than $28,000 from 354 donations.

And George Soros says he will commit $10 million from his personal foundation to combat the rise in hate crimes. Mr. Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and an immigrant originally from Hungary, said he was “deeply troubled” by hundreds of reports of possible hate crimes since the election — including many Nazi swastikas spray-painted on cars and buildings.

And going well beyond the norm, the Jewish head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an anti-bigotry group, has vowed to register as a Muslim if the USA creates a database of Muslim Americans. The idea of a Muslim database arose in November 2015, when Mr Trump told a reporter he would “certainly implement that. Absolutely”.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said: “If one day Muslim Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim”.

Let us all follow the example of Jonathan Greenblatt, and the words of Pope Francis who delivered a ringing plea to the world and his own Catholic Church to reject “the virus of polarization and animosity” and the growing temptation to “demonize” those who are different.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is: www.rabbimaller.com


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Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but…

Tower of Freedom Underground Railroad Monument on June 17, 2016 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

US President Obama is a great speaker and mythmaker but I think a little mention of Canada’s role in the emancipation of black people would have been appropriate today at the Smithsonian. Obama and many Americans love to paint this myth that the USA is unique and “the greatest.” Some Americans say this so many times that sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to convince themselves. I mean, if you are really secure about something you don’t have to continually brag, do you?

Aside from that, it was a great speech today. I think Obama would have made a superlative first President of the World. But we’re not there yet. And with American exclusivism, it clearly will take some kind of shakeup before most Americans come on board with that idea. I suppose the same could be said for Canadians and for people of many other countries. Each for our own reasons, we remain an assortment of separate states, provinces, territories and jurisdictions.

A quick look at history, however, tells a different story. For the most part, countries are becoming larger, geographically speaking. Is it only a matter of time before we have a centralized government for Planet Earth? I think so. But as I said, we’re not quite there yet.

—MC, Toronto 9/24/16


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A Brief Guide to African-American Worship

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Dr Ty King

While the diverse cultures of the Christian world have their distinctive and beautiful approaches of worshipping, there’s something distinctively enriching regarding African-American Christian worship. We trust it exemplifies principal outlines of thought & experience that do much to praise it to Christians far and wide.

Anyone who has noticed or partaken in an Afro-American Christian worship facility will agree that there’s an indisputable dissimilarity between the manner American Blacks worship & the worship of other ethnic and racial groups. Embedded in their distinctive social past in America, the similarity is more one of function & experience in comparison to proof that one approach is better to another.

The custom of Afro-American worshipping together persisted to progress throughout the late nineteenth century and carries on to till date in spite of the turn down of segregationist approaches and the standard acceptability of integrated devotion. African American Churches in Charlotte, NC have long been the hubs of communities, serving as school locations in the early years following the Civil War, hosting social welfare functions, like offering help for the poor, and going on to established schools, or prison and orphanage ministeries. Consequently, black churches have promoted influential community organizations and offered spiritual & political leadership, especially throughout the civil rights movement.

Tasks of Afro-American worship:

With no posturing to being comprehensive, the following are some modern tasks of Afro-American worship and it must carry on:

  • To reproduce the collective experience of Afro-Americans without lessening the critical focus of worship admiration of & for divinity.
  • To contain inventive tension its unmistakable emphasis on fixing the injustices & disproportion in this globe with eschatological focal point on the life to come.
  • To find a balance between impulsiveness and order
  • To be commemorative without surrendering to emotionalism.
  • To empower worship and rejoice Christ.

Afro-American worship has played an important part in the Afro-American society. Slaves who didn’t discard their African spiritual legacy came to admit the God of their masters, devoting God initially in the Invisible Institution and afterward in their free cathedrals.

There was revised Christianity exceptionally suited to fulfill the requirements of their existential circumstance. A merriment of God’s redemptive deeds in history and on their behalf, their devotion offered them with pastoral attention, freedom, and empowerment. Music, prayer and the sermonized words are amongst the rudiments of their devotion, meant to carry on to be a “Balm in Gilead” for the rest of the journey.

Source: A Brief Guide to African-American Worship


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Hindus concerned at Hindu flags burning in New York on Thanksgiving

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus are highly concerned after reports of burning of 40 Hindu religious flags outside a Woodhaven home in Queens, a New York City borough, on Thanksgiving Day.

Rajan Zed said that it was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful US Hindu community numbering about three million; who had made lot of contributions to the nation and society; to receive such signals of hatred and anger.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged administration for swift action; and New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to contact the Queens area Hindu community to reassure them.

Rajan Zed suggested that basics of major world religions should be taught in high schools of the country and first responders should be imparted cultural competency training so that we understood each other better in view of increasing diversity of the country. Zed urged fellow Hindus to educate Americans about Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents, and try to remove any misconceptions about it.

Zed pointed out that reasons for the success of the US Hindu community in the areas of education, wealth and long-lasting harmonious marriages were because of their continuing with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, sanctity of marriage, etc., in USA amidst so many distractions.

According to reports, a Hindu temple was vandalized in Kitchener (Ontario) on November 15. Sign of planned “Winston Salem Hindu Temple” in Clemmons (North Carolina) was hit with over 60 shotgun blasts in July. A Hindu temple was vandalized in Dallas (Texas) in April. Two Hindu temples in Kent and Bothell (both in Seattle metropolitan area of Washington) were vandalized in February. A Hindu grandfather was roughed-up by police in Madison (Alabama) in February, resulting in partial paralysis. Last year, there was anti-Hindu vandalism in Loudoun County (Virginia).


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Hindus dismayed after 2nd temple vandalism in 2 weeks in Seattle metropolitan area

English: The top of the Space Needle in Seattl...

The top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus nationwide are highly concerned after reports of various broken windows and scrawling of word “FEAR” at Kent Hindu Temple wall in Washington State late February 26 night.

This was second such incident in recent days in Seattle metropolitan area after scrawling of “GET OUT” on Bothell Hindu Temple was discovered on February 15. In addition, a Hindu grandfather was roughed-up by police in Madison (Alabama) on February six resulting in partial paralysis. These two vandalized temples are about 34 miles apart from each other in Seattle metropolitan area of Washington State.

Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that it was shocking for the hard-working, harmonious and peaceful US Hindu community numbering about three million; who had made lot of contributions to the nation and society; to receive such signals of hatred and anger.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged administration for swift action to regain the falling confidence of the Hindu community.

Zed suggested that basics of major world religions should be taught in high schools of the country and first responders should be imparted cultural competency training so that we understood each other better in view of increasing diversity of the country. Zed urged fellow Hindus to educate Americans about Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents, and try to remove any misconceptions about it.

Zed pointed out that reasons for the success of the US Hindu community in the areas of education, wealth and long-lasting harmonious marriages were because of their continuing with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, sanctity of marriage, etc., in USA amidst so many distractions.

Kent Hindu Temple (Sanatan Dharma Temple and Cultural Center), a non-profit organization formed in 2002, opens daily and besides regular worship services, also organizes festivals; Indian music, dance and language classes; yoga; weekly children’s-parents’ activities; etc. Jugal Thakor is Temple President, while Rishikesh Tiwari is the Priest. Holi, annual festival of color, is scheduled for March eight.


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Hindus ask Australian museums re-examine procurement process of Hindu collections

Colombo-temple hindu

Colombo-temple hindu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus are asking all the museums and art galleries of Australia to exhaustively re-examine the procurement process and the provenance of their Hindu art collections, and if proved stolen, return to Hindu temples these originally belonged.

Rajan Zed, who is based in Nevada (USA), welcomed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s gesture of returning back to India on September five about 900-years-old bronze Shiva Nataraja and granulite Ardhanarishvara statues stolen from temples in India, which were worth millions of dollars.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that when acquiring new Hindu artifacts in the future, Australian art institutions should make sure that these were not looted from Hindu religious centers and should follow strict due diligence procedures and have transparent provenance. Pillaging of Hindu temples and archeological sites for mercantile greed was not okay, Zed argued.

Rajan Zed pointed out that Australian art institutions should adhere to the principles of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The panels conducting the examinations of existing collections should include internal and external art specialists. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly assist if needed, Zed added.

Zed further said that devotees had been worshipping these images of Hindu deities for centuries and, if confirmed as stolen, the world should respect their feelings by making arrangements to respectfully return to the religious institutions these plundered antiquities rightfully belonged to before being stolen.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.